CAMDEN, NJ — Slowing the spread of COVID-19 one mask at a time. 

A campaign to distribute over 175,000 reusable and washable fabric face masks to South Jersey took its first step Wednesday.

The Camden County Health Department and Camden County Police Department received a donation of roughly 60,000 masks from the Cooper Foundation and Norcross Foundation to begin the distribution throughout Camden City's 21 neighborhoods. 

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 “This generous donation will go a long way for the residents of the city in slowing the spread,” said CCPD Chief Joe Wysocki said. “I want to thank the foundations for making this purchase and providing this resource to the residents and organizations of Camden.”     

George Norcross, chairman of the Cooper Board of Trustees, and Philip Norcross, chair of The Cooper Foundation, recently announced the plan at large. 

“I want to thank the foundations for their generosity with this important resource for our residents,” said Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli. “Masks and social distancing will be a necessary tool for our residents until we have a vaccine or antiviral. Until we have therapeutics available and on the market masks will be mandatory.”  

Masks will be distributed over the new few weeks to Burlington and Gloucester counties as well.

“The health of the community and our patients is always our top priority and these facemasks are just another way we can demonstrate our commitment to those we serve,” said Kevin O’Dowd, co-president/CEO of Cooper. 

Today's distribution kicked off at the Walter Rand Transportation Center, Guadalupe Family Services and outside of Camden grocery stores including Cousin’s Market and PriceRite.

Health department officials said face coverings, as well as hand sanitizer and educational materials, will be handed out as part of a public health campaign in vulnerable neighborhoods. 

“Wearing a facemask is a simple way to keep yourself and others healthy when you are out and around others. As New Jersey begins to slowly open, we are happy to be able to provide masks to those we serve as an easy way to stay healthy,” said Anthony J. Mazzarelli, MD, JD, MBE, co-president/CEO of Cooper. 

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