Snohomish County enacts mask directive for all residents regardless of vaccination status
A newly-enacted mask directive for all Snohomish County residents regardless of vaccination status is now in effect as of Thursday, Aug. 12.
The new directive is required for everyone ages 5 and up in all indoor public spaces, including retail establishments, grocery stores, and government buildings. It does not apply to outdoor spaces, although Snohomish County officials recommend residents mask up in those scenarios as well.
According to Dr. Chris Spitters, the county’s health officer, COVID-19 cases in Snohomish County have doubled over the last three weeks. That’s consistent with a larger statewide spike across Washington.
“This is not sustainable and it’s preventable,” he said in a recent briefing. “We have the means to prevent this — we need to get back in the right direction.”
Health officials credit low vaccination rates, an increase in large gatherings, and a “reluctance to mask up” as the driving factors behind the county’s increasing case rates, as well the prevalence of the highly infectious delta variant.
In July, unvaccinated Snohomish County residents were 10 times more likely to get COVID-19, be hospitalized by COVID, or die of COVID than those who have been fully vaccinated.
A voluntary statewide mask recommendation remains in place as well, enacted in late July by Gov. Jay Inslee. That guidance is consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Masks are mandatory for all K-12 students and staff on school premises this fall.
In neighboring King County, Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin has recommended that everyone — vaccinated or not — wear a mask in indoor, public spaces, but it is not yet a mandate. A mandate could return, he said, if the health care system is threatened or begins trending in that direction.