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8 Washington counties issue joint statement urging residents to mask up in public

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Eight counties released a joint statement on Monday, recommending that all residents — regardless of vaccination status — wear a mask in public.

During a briefing late last week, King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin urged people in the region to voluntarily mask up, citing concerns over increased COVID-19 rates driven by the Delta variant. On Monday, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan, and Grays Harbor counties signed onto a joint statement with King County to make that mask recommendation together.

King County recommends everyone wear a mask ‘once again’

“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,” the statement reads, going on to note that vaccinations remain “our best defense against COVID-19.”

Dr. Duchin also issued an updated directive in light of Monday’s joint recommendation, asking that all people in King County “voluntarily” wear masks in retail and grocery stores, government buildings, and “other businesses and places where members of the public can enter freely.”

The directive does not apply to outdoor settings or “places of employment with limited access” to the public. Those under the age of 5 are exempt as well.

While neither the joint recommendation nor King County’s directive are mandates, they still “strongly urge” residents and businesses to comply. The directive will remain in effect in King County until COVID-19 rates “decline to low levels of transmission as defined by the CDC.”

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