CARTHAGE, N.C. (WNCN) — Folks in Moore County lined up outside of Moore County Agriculture Center as the health department passed out N95 masks Tuesday.

It was James Hargrove’s second time in line for a mask since the pandemic started.

“I came here to the agriculture building before and they gave me the mask I got on now,” Hargrove said.

The CDC recently recommended that people should upgrade from paper and cloth masks to N95 for better protection against the omicron COVID-19 variant. The masks have better filtering and last longer.

“The N95 is a respirator and it filters out particulates instead of just pushing kind of back. Essentially if you have on a respirator and someone else does not have on a respirator the time it would take you to get sick if they are talking is much less,” said Miriam Gill, administrative officer for Moore County Health Department.

Gill said the state only sent Moore county 9,600 masks. That is only enough to cover around 9 percent of the county’s more than 100,000 population. The health department ran out of masks within 30 minutes of the giveaway event Tuesday.

“To accommodate the entire county we would just need a wealth more of resources of those masks,” Gill said.

The N95 masks quickly disappeared before lunchtime. Most of the people getting them were 60 and older. That is a population that makes up only about 25 percent of Moore County and a population that’s seeing a decline in case numbers.

“When we saw the first variant come out, when we saw delta that was really hitting our older population a bit more, but omicron seems to be moving and migrating to the younger population,” Gill said.

Moore County health leaders say they are working with state and federal health leaders to get more masks.