UPDATE: Knox County Health Department has put a temporary hold on granting bulk requests for free masks from businesses and organizations, although individuals still can get a mask for themselves.
Dr. Martha Buchanan, Health Department director, said Wednesday the department needs to get more cloth masks from the state because bulk requests have been so high. Some 300 businesses or organizations have asked for masks to hand out to employees and members, department officials said.
Buchanan said she welcomed such strong response since the county resumed handing out the masks. But she said it cannot currently meet mass demand.
"We are working to get more soon," she said.
A request form that has been on the department's website will be temporarily disabled until the county can re-supply, Buchanan said.
Individuals still can pick up a mask if they need one from department headquarters on Dameron Avenue.
So far the Health Department has handed out some 171,000 masks. The state said this spring it was buying 5 million for free distribution to Tennesseans.
Buchanan reiterated past recommendations that people should wear a mask while out in public. The mask helps ensure the wearer isn't potentially spreading COVID-19 to others they may come in contact with.
PREVIOUS STORY: Businesses and organizations can now request state-provided masks to be distributed to employees and patrons.
If your organization would like to place an order of the cloth face coverings for employees or patrons, please click here to access the order form. You will receive an email reply within 1-2 business days with confirmation of your order and details for pick-up.
A box of washable cloth face coverings contains 360 masks, in packages of 24 each.
The state ordered 5-million face masks to be handed out to any Tennessean that needed them earlier this year.
The state had temporarily stopped handing out the masks after a report by a Nashville tv station raised questions about their safety, but those concerns have been investigated and found to be unfounded.
They are available for free to individuals at your local health department.