GEMA releasing 3 million cloth masks to hardest-hit counties and Department of Education

coronavirus under electron microscopeCoronavirus under electron microscope (image by Felipe Esquivel Reed, licensed under CC-SA 4.0)

The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) announced in a press release today that they are releasing 3 million cloth face coverings to the Georgia Department of Education and 39 county emergency management agencies in July.

The counties receiving masks are the ones hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The masks are washable, and two million of them will be distributed to students and teachers by the Department of Education. The school systems will be able to determine how to distribute the masks within their school districts.

“The distribution of these face coverings is in line with current CDC guidance suggesting that they be used when social distancing measures are hard to maintain,” said GEMA/HS Director Homer Bryson. “Since many carriers of COVID-19 are asymptomatic, they can unwittingly spread the disease to those around them. Wearing a face covering is a simple step that can be taken to reduce the risk of transmission by those infected.”

“As we plan for a return to school this fall, we have worked to provide guidance that is realistic in the K-12 setting, provides for the best possible educational experience for students and – most importantly – keeps students, teachers, staff, and families safe,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Having access to face coverings is critical as our districts and schools plan for a safe return, and I am grateful for the leadership and partnership of Governor Kemp and GEMA.”

The press release continued:

For more information on the Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia Department of Education’s guidance for a safe return to in-person instruction, visit For information on Georgia public schools’ COVID-19 response, visit

Counties receiving the masks were identified by the Department of Public Health as areas where infection rates are rising or there may be increased risk of transmission. Each county EMA will develop a plan to distribute the face coverings in their communities, paying special attention to the homeless population and economically challenged areas.