Stamford to distribute free surgical and N95 COVID-19 masks at Rippowam Middle School Sunday

COVID test kits are distributed at Scalzi Park Jan. 2 to Stamford residents. Free masks are being given out Sunday at Rippowam Middle School.

COVID test kits are distributed at Scalzi Park Jan. 2 to Stamford residents. Free masks are being given out Sunday at Rippowam Middle School.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

STAMFORD — Giving out as many masks as possible will be the goal of Stamford's next mass distribution event.

City officials will host a mask giveaway event at Rippowam Middle School from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday or until all masks have been distributed, Mayor Caroline Simmons announced Friday afternoon in a press release.

Residents are eligible to receive five masks per person, with both surgical and N95 options available.

The hierarchy of suitable masks has become all the more apparent during the omicron variant's persistent surge. Experts broadly agree that N95 masks — the tightly fitted respirators that filter out at minimum 95 percent of airborne pathogens — offer the greatest level of protection against COVID-19.

Director of Public Safety Ted Jankowski told The Stamford Advocate that the N95 masks going to residents come from the state.

Though the city said in the release that the distribution event would be set up as a drive-through, they emphasized that residents will also be accommodated if they arrive on bicycles or as walkers.

While masking has been a critical part of the pandemic response in Connecticut since the viruses' early days, Simmons said in a press release that she expects "that the new guidelines from the CDC will increase the demand for masks by residents."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance states that people diagnosed with COVID-19 can go out in public five days after they are fever-free for 24 hours if they wear a mask.

The number of new COVID-19 infections in Stamford and throughout the state remains higher than it's been at any point in the past year, according to state data. The city's seven-day average of new infections cases per capital sits at 275.

Hartford HealthCare's chief epidemiologist Ulysses Wu said he believes Connecticut earlier this week hit the peak of the latest wave of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

"I suspect the peak has already happened if these numbers continue to hold," Wu said.

In Stamford, the seven-day average of new cases hit 334 on Monday, according to the publically available COVID-19 dashboard. In the days following, the average dropped back under 300. The average positivity rate in Stamford has also ticked downward since Monday.

After assuming office in December, Simmons reinstated Stamford's mask mandate.

This report includes prior reporting from staff writer Jordan Nathaniel Fenster.