An executive order requiring personal protective masks for all essential employees in New York who come into contact with the public sent some businesses scrambling to find the masks.  

The Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce responded with a giveaway Wednesday, hours before the order was to go into effect.

It can be a double-edged sword, being labeled ‘essential’ — and at the same time — staying safe. The line of cars outside 150 State Street highlighted an ever-evolving situation, as Rochester attempts to flatten the coronavirus curve. Chamber of Commerce members lined up to receive free protective masks for workers deemed essential by state government.

“If you are staying in operation if you are interacting with the public, you need to be safe about it,” said Marc Cohen, chamber director of operations. “You need to keep yourself safe, need to keep others safe and we fully support that.”

The executive order from Governor Andrew Cuomo, effective 8 p.m. Wednesday, requires employers to provide masks to essential workers.  With a coronavirus-related rush, that’s easier said than done.  

“It was quite a worry because it's been difficult to find them,” said Christian Jefferson of Action for a Better Community. “I think it's very critical. I think this is a wonderful thing that the chamber is doing and it's great that we're able to get these masks to help protect our employees.”

4,000 masks available to essential workers were all donated, a generous act, in a time of need.