No new mask mandate in Pierce County despite rising COVID-19 cases

Jul 6, 2022, 8:34 AM
Photo by John Moore...
Photo by John Moore

 The CDC says people in 15 Washington counties should begin wearing masks indoors again due to high COVID-19 transmission.

So far, the state is not issuing an indoor mask mandate.

An infectious disease doctor at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital does not believe a mask mandate would work.

But is COVID-19 spreading? Absolutely. And she thinks that when you go into a store like this one, you probably should put a mask on.

It’s not as if no one in Tacoma is wearing a mask to ward off COVID-19, especially those using mass transit.

“Now, I wear it on the bus mostly,” said Ginette, her mask pulled down to her chin.

“I don’t think we need COVID for people to want to feel safe for some sort of facial covering,” said Henry Johnson, “because it’s dirty without the disease of COVID. But I do like to see everybody wearing a mask and practicing safety.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, it may be time to do just that, especially indoors.

A map shows the 15 counties where the CDC says COVID-19 transmission is high. In eastern Washington — Spokane and eight other counties; on the west side — six counties, including Pierce.

“There are some lags in data in knowing what the circulation is,” said Dr. Mary Fairchok, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.

She said that is likely why health officials can differ in their assessments.

Either way, Dr. Fairchok added, “I think rates are really quite high right now. And I personally do wear a mask when I go into crowded spaces like supermarkets or church or restaurants as much as possible. Because I know the rates are very high. And I’d just rather not get COVID.”

Still, she doesn’t think another mask mandate would work unless more people are like Tony Haynes, who says he still wears one when he feels it is necessary.

“Oh, I’m tired of it,” Haynes said. “It’s not my first choice by any stretch of the imagination. But I don’t know everybody’s conditions. And I’ll give them the respect that they are compromised in some way, I’ll do everything I can to keep them safe.”

The local health department is recommending that people continue to wear masks in crowded indoor places.

That hasn’t changed — it has always recommended that.

But — at least for now — there is no mask mandate.

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No new mask mandate in Pierce County despite rising COVID-19 cases