With COVID cases on rise again, did Washington lift mask mandate too soon?

May 20, 2022, 6:33 AM


(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

It’s been nearly two months since Washington state lifted its indoor mask mandate, and cases are creeping back up again.

According to a report this week by KIRO 7’s Graham Johnson, the State Department of Health website shows numbers are increasing, though not as high as they were in January. Cases in Seattle Public Schools are approaching numbers not seen since January as well. And while 200 people in Washington were in hospitals a month ago, it was up to 450 last weekend.

“This is still well below some of the peaks where we’ve been before,” Pavitra Roychoudhury, an acting instructor for University of Washington virology, said in the KIRO 7 report, “but what we don’t know is, are we at the beginning of a trend? Are we at the crest of a wave? We’re definitely concerned.”

On a recent edition of KIRO Newsradio’s Gee and Ursula Show, hosts Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin reacted to the latest news.

“The question I have is, did we lift the mask mandate too early?” asked Reutin. “When you when you hear that cases are going up, does it make you feel any kind of way other than ‘let’s just keep going?'”

Gee and Ursula are on the same page regarding their answer.

“No, and the reason why I don’t feel any particular type of way is everything that is happening right now, I don’t think any of us were shocked about it,” Scott said. “We weren’t shocked that once you take (away) the mask mandate and people are in school and people are in planes and all those things, there’s a good possibility that cases can go up. The unfortunate part is that there were 200 people (hospitalized a month ago), the Washington State Hospital Association said, and today that number is 450. You don’t like hearing that.”

The critical thing to Scott is this current variant of COVID that’s most prevalent is proving to be less dangerous for those who contract it.

“The good news is that there’s a lot of people that have been vaccinated, and this variant right now isn’t as strong so people aren’t dying as much,” he said. “The bad news is that we’re still going through it, it’s still around, and we did lose 313 people to COVID around the country (Tuesday). So if you were to ask me should they bring the mask mandate back, my answer is no. It’s going to be the same. Now, if you want to wear a mask, then I think you should wear a mask. If you don’t want to wear a mask, then do your thing. I don’t think that we’re at the level that there needs to be panic and we need to bring back the mask mandate.”

Reutin said it’s tough to go backward with a mandate now.

“Well, the genie’s out of the bottle – it’s hard to get people to willingly return to masking,” she said. “And I did notice when I was traveling, I was one of the few (that was still wearing a mask), and it wasn’t for a statement … When I am in really close quarters, I’ll put one on.

“I think you said it exactly, and I hate any day that we have to bring up COVID because we had to bring it up so much for the past two years, but I think it’s important for people to know, yes, cases are going up. Yes, more people are being hospitalized. I mean, I’m hearing from more people who are still dealing with long COVID, and that is a bit of a concern when I hear people talk about that because it’s not something that’s talked about enough. But that all said, we all know what it is and what it takes to reduce our chances.”

You can listen to the whole discussion in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

seattle city council, 10 minutes election...

L.B. Gilbert

Gee & Ursula: Seattle City Council has been ‘way too dysfunctional’

The 2023 Seattle City Council election is gearing up with 45 total candidates registered to run across seven districts.

4 days ago

Rules for airline passengers...

Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Gee & Ursula discuss the rules of the skies for airline passengers

With Memorial Day coming up, Gee & Ursula thought it would be a good time to take up the rules of the skies for airline passengers.

5 days ago

Pete Carroll Ted Lasso...

Gee Scott

Gee: Is Pete Carroll the real life Ted Lasso?

I wonder if the writers of Ted Lasso reached out to Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll at all when creating the show.

5 days ago

Seattle homeless crisis...

Ursula Reutin

Ursula: $134M high-rise won’t solve Seattle homeless crisis

The Rise is being touted as Seattle’s first “affordable housing” high-rise in more than 50 years. It officially opened this week.

6 days ago

Amazon Walkout...

Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Ursula on Amazon employees planning walkout: ‘Read the room’

Ursula Reutin says Amazon employees need to reconsider the walkout, especially as the company has already cut so many other jobs.

6 days ago

King County Regional Homelessness Authority...

Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Gee Scott: ‘I don’t have faith’ in King County Regional Homelessness Authority

KIRO Newsradio's Gee Scott said, "I don't have faith" in the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA).

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

With COVID cases on rise again, did Washington lift mask mandate too soon?