The sign at the Levy Senior Center summed it all up.

“Attention!,” the sign announced. “No more masks.”

And it was the same story late Tuesday morning at both the Evanston Police Department and the downtown Public Library.

The city had provided each facility with 500 packets of KN-95 masks, to be given away first come, first served.

The distribution was supposed to take place between 11 am and 2 pm. But by 11:45, the masks were all gone.

Tim Carter, program manager at the Levy Center, said he was “not surprised” the masks went quickly. Even though the omicron variant of COVID-19 seems to be diminishing, the pandemic is still with us.

Carter said the original plan was to distribute five masks per household, but with so many people wanting them, it was reduced to two.

“Some people were disappointed they couldn’t get five,” Carter told Evanston Now, “but by and large everyone was happy to get the two.

At the library, a man who only wanted to be called “Tim” showed up at 11:45, only to find the masks were all taken.

A library security officer said there was a line when distribution began at 11, and the masks were all handed out in a short time.

“Very surprised,” Tim said. “It just tells me,” he added, that “Evanston has a lot of people in the know,” who know the importance of masks.

Ike Ogbo, the city’s Director of Health and Human Services, said while the city’s supplies are limited, they “plan to do … [this] again soon when we replenish our supplies.”

Free masks from the federal government may also be available at some pharmacies.

A box of 50 KN-95 masks can also be purchased online for $35.00, although the price and quantity may vary depending on which site you search.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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