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Expanded mask mandate takes effect Saturday statewide

A Ken Griffey Jr. statue with a mask is seen during All In WA: A Concert For COVID-19 Relief on June 24, 2020 in Washington. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for All In WA)

A bit lost in Gov. Inslee’s Thursday announcement of tightening restrictions on weddings, funerals, restaurants, and bars, was a new expansion to the statewide mask mandate.

State Secretary of Health John Wiesman said all Washington residents must wear a face covering in common areas, including in elevators, hallways, university housing, hotels, motels, and assisted living facilities. The expansion takes effect on Saturday, July 25.

Wiesman said that wearing face coverings is showing promising results, especially in Yakima County where the mandate took effect even before a statewide action on June 10.

On July 7, Inslee updated the mask mandate by asking businesses to refuse service to customers who are not wearing a face covering.

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

  • CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
  • Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
  • Cloth face coverings should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The CDC says face coverings create a barrier to prevent respiratory droplets from traveling to another person if that person coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. COVID-19 can be spread by people who aren’t showing symptoms and who may not know they’re infected, which is why it’s important for everyone to wear face coverings in public and practice social distancing.

Washington Mask Challenge

Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib launched the Washington Mask Challenge three months ago as a statewide initiative to encourage Washingtonians to make, wear, and donate homemade cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

If you’re able to commit to making at least 10 masks, you can find instructions to follow on Washington Mask Challenge’s website using household materials. Habib said you can make these face coverings out of inexpensive items at home, such as bed sheets or T-shirts.

You can also request fabric to make masks, though it’s asked that you pledge to make a minimum of 100.

There’s a form to fill out so the office can track all mask donations, and you’ll be contacted by email with instructions for sending your masks to an organization in need.

If you are part of an organization that needs masks, you can request them online.

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