State leaves door open for counties to make their own mask rules

May 19, 2021, 10:07 AM | Updated: 12:29 pm
reopen, mask rules...
(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

Washington state’s Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah indicated Wednesday that the state will leave the door open for counties to enact their own mask rules.

King County health officer: Fully vaccinated should consider masking up

According to Dr. Shah, the state recently updated its own mask mandate to align with CDC guidance, allowing for fully vaccinated people to not wear masks “in most situations.” Despite that, he also said that “counties and businesses can make their own rules about masking, so it will be different depending on where you are.”

“Respect the rules of the room you’re in,” he advised.

This comes after Public Health — Seattle & King County stated this week that it plans to enact its own stricter masking rules sometime in the next few days.

“We can and will transition to masking for only unvaccinated and those vaccinated who choose to,” King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said on Twitter. “For now, continue what’s worked for us by everyone masking in indoor public spaces while we get disease rates lower, more people vaccinated and more of our community protected.”

He went on to state that there “will be an official announcement with our guidance shortly,” where specifics of the county’s rules will be laid out in detail.

Washington transitions to ‘new normal’ as all counties can be in Phase 3

As for why the county plans to diverge from the direction the state is taking, Duchin labeled it “an unfortunate consequence of the botched CDC rollout of their guidance,” which has drawn criticism for a lack of clarity on how to properly enforce different standards for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

“We are really kind of playing with fire and hoping that people are going to actually abide by these recommendations, that only people who are vaccinated will begin removing their masks in indoor situations,” virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen told KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, that’s probably not going to always be the case because we also don’t have any type of system available for verifying somebody’s vaccine status.”

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State leaves door open for counties to make their own mask rules