King County health officer recommends everyone wear a mask ‘once again’
King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin recommends that everyone — vaccinated or not — wear a mask in indoor, public spaces.
“Today, COVID-19 rates are increasing in King County largely due to the spread of the more contagious Delta and other variants of concern, and our changing behaviors with increasing activities while dropping COVID-19 precautions as the state’s Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery restrictions were lifted,” he said.
“Higher levels of Delta virus transmission increase the risk for all of us, but we know that wearing a high-quality, well-fitting face mask or respirator is a simple and effective way to reduce risk for individuals and for our community,” he added.
Duchin cited a recent report from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which found that if universal masking were to be implemented in Washington next week, it would prevent between 540 to 880 deaths in the state by Nov. 1.
“The vast majority of my own infectious disease and public health colleagues are personally wearing masks in indoor, public spaces, and they recommend that for their friends and family,” he said.
For those reasons, Duchin recommends that all people — regardless of vaccination status — “once again, voluntarily” wear masks in indoor, public settings.
“Universal masking in indoor, public spaces provides a more reliable way to ensure everyone is safer for now as we monitor the current increasing disease trends,” he said.
Duchin also clarified that this is not a mandate, but said a mandate could return if the health care system is threatened or begins trending in that direction.
“I don’t think we’re going to get there. I think that the level of protection that we’ve achieved in King County will protect us from a severe outbreak that would threaten our health care system,” he said.
“On the other hand,” he added, “… all of us need to be aware of the risks that the Delta variant poses, that there are many, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in our community, and there are many opportunities to prevent infections by layering protective measures — vaccination, mask use, and ventilation.”