Gov. Inslee expands statewide mask mandate to include outdoor events
A statewide mask mandate will be expanded to include large, outdoor events with over 500 attendees starting on Monday, Sept. 13.
The announcement came from Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday. This adds on to Washington’s existing masking rules, which already requiring masks in all public indoor spaces.
“A mask helps everyone,” Inslee said. “When we wear it, it particularly helps innocent children who cannot protect themselves with a vaccine.”
Both Gov. Inslee and state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah acknowledged that while outdoor settings are generally the safest venues to prevent the spread of COVID-19, “when people are packed tightly together, we’re getting transmission.”
“When you combine large crowds with the delta variant, we’re going to keep seeing these super-spreader events,” Inslee cautioned, pointing to the over 200 infections stemming from Watershed Festival at the Gorge Amphitheater in late July and early August.
An outdoor mask mandate had already been in effect in King and Pierce counties since Tuesday, Sept. 7.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates in Washington are now at the highest they’ve been over the course of the entire pandemic, with health care facilities reporting record numbers of patients. In some cases, people with strokes and appendicitis have had to wait for treatment as a result.
“If you come in with a stroke, if you come in with a cardiac event, there is not a bed out there for you,” said Julie Petersen, CEO of Kittitas Valley Healthcare in Ellensburg at a Washington State Hospital Association briefing on Tuesday. “And if there is a bed, you might be waiting for an ambulance.”