File Photo

File Photo

Face covering recommendation in indoor public spaces expands to 7 more counties

King plus Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan and Grays Harbor counties

Several local health officers from across the Puget Sound region are joining together to recommend that everyone wear facial coverings when in indoor public settings where vaccination status is unknown, according to a July 26 media release from Public Health – Seattle & King County.

The recommendation from several local health jurisdictions underscores that wearing a mask is an effective and simple measure that people can take to add an extra layer of protection for themselves and their community at a time when rates of COVID-19 are increasing in the region and around the country, according to the release.

In King County, similar to other parts of the region and country, COVID-19 rates are on the rise, largely due to the spread of the more contagious delta variant and increasing activities as restrictions have been lifted.

King County Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Duchin issued July 26 an updated health officer directive for King County to reflect the new guidance that strongly recommends people wear masks in indoor public settings. Universal masking in indoor public spaces provides a more reliable way to ensure everyone is safer as we monitor the current increasing disease trends. This extra layer of protection is intended for settings like grocery stores, restaurants, retail, theaters, and entertainment establishments, where people can’t be sure everyone is vaccinated.

The joint statement issued by several local health officers underscores the importance of masking as an extra layer of protection.

“The health officers of King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan and Grays Harbor counties have joined together to pass on their best public health advice to protect you, your family, and our communities,” according to the statement. “We recommend all residents wear facial coverings when in indoor public settings where the vaccination status of those around you is unknown. This step will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public, including customers and workers, help stem the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many parts of the state, and decrease the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

Vaccinations are our best defense against COVID-19 and are safe, effective, and readily available for everyone age 12 and over. Please get yours immediately if you are not already vaccinated.”

Duchin said in his public briefing July 23 the reasons behind wearing face coverings.

“The delta variant presents a significant new threat, but we have great tools at our disposal to fight COVID-19, most important, our vaccines, which continue to do an excellent job of what they’re intended to do – prevent serious illness,” Duchin said. “But, until we’re further down the road, and in a safer and more stable place, it makes sense to continue to take advantage of effective measures to reduce our risk.

“Wearing a mask in indoor public settings where not everyone is known to be vaccinated is easy and effective and provides an extra layer of protection for all and allows us to more safely get back to doing the things we want to do and need to do.”

Washington state already requires unvaccinated people to wear masks in indoor public settings, although in stores and other public spaces, there is no practical way to know who is vaccinated and who isn’t. For this reason, universal masking in indoor public spaces provides a more reliable way to ensure everyone is safer as we monitor the current increasing disease trends.

Masking in public spaces is also beneficial for those who are in close contact with someone at increased risk, to model mask-wearing for children, and to protect from other respiratory illnesses or allergens.

The vast majority of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths occur in unvaccinated people, according to the media release. Vaccination is the single most important thing people can do to protect themselves and those in the community. But no vaccine provides 100% protection; a small percentage of vaccinated people may develop COVID-19 and be able to pass the infection to others, although this is much less likely than for unvaccinated people. When vaccinated people do become infected, their illness is typically not serious.

Wearing a mask in indoor public spaces helps protect us all, including those who are unable to be protected by the vaccine, such as the 300,000 children in King County who aren’t able to get vaccinated yet, and the many thousands of people who have immune systems that are weakened or suppressed.

In addition to masking, improving airflow and ventilation in public spaces are critical steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 indoors. COVID-19 builds up in closed spaces as infected people breathe, and the risk increases where people are singing, shouting, or exercising, and with closer contact and longer exposure.

Windows and doors should be opened whenever possible to maximize the movement of air. Building and business owners should evaluate their HVAC systems to increase outside airflow, upgrade filtration where possible and consider the need for portable HEPA filtration.

Public Health – Seattle & King County also reminds the public that if you have even mild symptoms, whether or not you’re vaccinated, get a COVID-19 test and quarantine yourself away from others while you wait for your results. Information on where to get tested for COVID-19 is available at King County’s COVID-19 testing webpage.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@mi-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.mi-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

[flipp]

More in Northwest

Seattle Children’s Hospital (Courtesy photo)
Seattle Children’s Hospital identifies racial disparities in infections, security response

The healthcare provider did not respond to multiple requests for data used to identify disparities.

File photo/Sound Publishing
Ban on single-use plastic bags in WA begins Oct. 1

Shoppers will have the choice to pay for a reusable plastic or recycled paper bag.

Courtesy Photo, Port of Seattle
Port of Seattle to require vaccinations for employees

2,200 workers must be vaccinated by Nov. 15

People hold up signs in protest of Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest proclamations during a Rally for Medical Freedom on Aug. 25 in Buckley. Photo by Alex Bruell/Sound Publishing
State workers get incentive to comply with vaccine mandate

An agreement between the state and their union also provides for some leeway in meeting the deadline.

This is a screenshot that shows the pursuit of a stolen vehicle Sept. 1 on Interstate 5 in King County.
VIDEO: Auburn police let suspected vehicle thief go, citing new laws

State laws passed earlier this spring require police to have probable cause to engage in a pursuit.

Juanita High School student Ria Mahon. Courtesy photo
Student brings awareness to menstrual health among Puget Sound’s homeless

When Ria Mohan, a junior of Juanita High School in Kirkland, had… Continue reading

Matt Axe, the Wildfire and Forest Resiliency Coordinator with the King Conservation District, speaks to homeowner Anita Kissee-Wilder about fire reduction strategies at her home in North Bend on Aug. 24. Photo by Conor Wilson/Valley Record.
King County braces for more wildfires in rural areas

Firefighters have already responded to a number of large fires.

t
New data dashboard tracks COVID-19 risk for unvaccinated, vaccinated people

Information compiled by Public Health – Seattle & King County

This 2019 security footage at the Cenex gas station in Black Diamond shows Anthony Chilcott on his phone before entering, and driving off with, Carl Sanders’ Ford Raptor and Monkey, his poodle, in the front seat. Courtesy photo
Oversight office releases scathing report on King County Sheriff’s Office

Report analyzes 2019 killing of Anthony Chilcott by deputies.

Close-up hand using phone in night time on street. File photo
King County Council steps closer to establishing hate crime hotline

The program is aimed at reducing the number of unreported hate crimes.

A Link light rail train travels underneath the University of Washington during testing to open the new line to Northgate. COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit
Northgate Link light rail testing moves into final stages

Three new north Seattle stations opening Oct. 2