Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Banej
N95 particulate respirator mask made by 3M that can filter 95 percent of airborne particles.

Starting Thursday morning, one million N95 masks will be made available at New York State facilities, Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday in an interview on NY1.


The masks will be given out at train stations, parks and other public places, in addition to being distributed by local governments.

Four hundred thousand will be distributed to New Yorkers at MTA stations, the Port Authority bus terminal, state parks and at the Javits Center, she said.

Another 600,000 will be available from state health department stockpiles for pickup by local governments.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the air quality was expected to continue to deteriorate throughout Thursday. The Air Quality Health Advisory remains in effect until midnight Thursday night.

“Mask up – especially our older New Yorkers and young children, and anyone with breathing or heart issues,” he wrote in a tweet. “Limit your outdoor activities to the absolute necessities.”

New York’s governor was even more direct: “The best way to stay safe right now is to stay indoors,” she wrote in a tweet. “We highly recommend outdoor activities be postponed or cancelled as we wait for safer air quality conditions. If you must be outside for a significant period, wear a high-quality mask to reduce exposure,” she warned.

Lakewood Township in New Jersey also announced the distribution of free masks. The equipment is being distributed at two drive-up stations to enable residents to get the masks without having to risk exposure to the thickening pollution.

The moves come in response to the increasingly unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke drifting into the United States from Canada.

‘Hazardous’ Air Quality
The air quality index in New York City soared past 400 on Wednesday, in the “hazardous” category, the worst since the Environmental Protection Agency began recording air quality measurements in 1999. ‘Hazardous’ indicates everyone in the city is now at high risk of adverse health effects.

The city was rated Wednesday as having the worst air quality on the planet; as of Wednesday night, the mayor said New York City topped out at a level of 480, on the 500-point scale.

New York City was joined in the “hazardous air quality” category by Allentown, Trenton, Philadelphia and Surf City.

Cultural, Sports Activities Suspended
The baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox was postponed to a Thursday doubleheader, as was the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Detroit Tigers in Philadelphia — MLB’s first games postponed by air-quality issues since 2020 – but there was no guarantee that the games would take place even then, due to the worsening conditions.

Opening night of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Bandshell featuring Taj Mahal in concert was canceled. New York City beaches were closed, and outdoor activities were suspended at schools, city parks events and zoos, where animals were brought into night enclosures early.

The NYC Parks Department also canceled all outdoor events, including “Movie Under the Stars” screenings that were scheduled for Wednesday at several parks throughout the five boroughs.

A number of other cultural events were likewise cancelled or postponed. Check before leaving to attend any event.

New York City public schools are closed on Thursday, and alternate side parking is suspended, Adams announced. Parking meters remain in effect.

Flights Delayed Due to Smoke
Thousands of flights were delayed Wednesday as local airports were blanketed by the smoke.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) imposed a brief ground stop at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in Queens on Wednesday due to the poor visibility. The halt was lifted later in the day, but delays continued at the airport.

Flights were also delayed at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWA) and in Philadelphia due to the worsening conditions.

By 9:10 pm, more than 4,800 US flights were delayed, according to the FlightAware flight-tracking site.

Biden Calls Trudeau Over Worsening Air Quality
As the skies continued to darken across America’s Midwest and Northeastern Corridor, President Joe Biden called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss the situation.

According to a readout of the call, Biden offered “additional support to respond to the devastating and historic wildfires burning in Canada.”

Biden ordered the deployment of “all available federal firefighting assets that can rapidly assist in suppressing fires impacting Canadian and American communities.”

The White House said in the statement that as of Wednesday, the US had deployed more than 600 US firefighters and support personnel, and other firefighting assets, to respond to the fires.

“The two leaders also discussed continued cooperation to prevent wildfires and address the health impacts that such fires have on our communities. They agreed to stay in close touch on emerging needs,” the statement said.

Hundreds of Wildfires Raging in Canada
More than 400 wildfires were burning in Canada on Wednesday, including 252 that were still out of control, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.

The flames so far consumed more than 9.4 million acres of land across Canada – 12 times the 10-year average for this time of year – and sent smoke billowing down into the United States, where at least 17 states declared an air quality alert.

It’s not clear when the smoke might dissipate, although forecasters are hoping for clarity by the end of the weekend.

Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous articleThe Shape Of The Menorah
Next articleFormer Vice President Mike Pence Joins GOP Presidential Race
Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.