King County hits vaccine milestone, will lift mask directive on June 29

Jun 15, 2021, 3:44 PM | Updated: 4:16 pm
King County vaccine, masks...
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

King County has officially reached a key vaccine milestone, with over 70% of residents ages 16 and up having now completed their vaccination series.

Gov. Inslee: Washington ‘close’ to being able to reopen ahead of schedule

This makes King County the largest county in the U.S. to reach that threshold for adults. Because of that, a directive urging residents to wear masks in all indoor public places will be lifted on June 29, “allowing time for full immunity to develop for the latest people who have been vaccinated.”

“We took big steps toward this milestone by opening our high volume vaccination clinics in areas hardest hit by the virus, partnering with dozens of nonprofits to connect with hard-to-reach communities, and now working with schools and mobile teams to get the vaccine to every King County resident,” Executive Dow Constantine said in a written release. “People across King County have shown what’s possible when we work together to keep one another healthy.”

The countywide mask directive was first issued in late May, after the state aligned its own guidelines with the CDC to allow fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks in most public settings. King County had decided to continue urging the use of masks for all residents, citing how it was “impractical” for businesses to have to determine the vaccination status of customers.

‘Will take time’ for Washington state, feds to align on vaccine totals

With enough residents now having been vaccinated, though, the hope is that there’s enough widespread protection from the virus to relax the county’s mask guidance.

This comes on the heels of Mayor Jenny Durkan announcing that Seattle had become the first major U.S. city to fully vaccinate 70% of its residents ages 12 of up. Statewide, vaccination rates have lagged behind those numbers, with the state health officials reporting that just over 67% of residents ages 16 and up have received at least one vaccine dose.

Washington would need to have 70% of residents ages 16 and up begin the vaccination process in order to reopen prior to June 30.

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King County hits vaccine milestone, will lift mask directive on June 29