Jack on mask requirements at Wash. clinics: ‘It’s not weird’

Dec 8, 2023, 10:30 AM | Updated: 12:02 pm

Nurse Jason Doff removes his N95 mask after administering care in the acute care COVID-19 unit.  (P...

Nurse Jason Doff removes his N95 mask after administering care in the acute care COVID-19 unit. (Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

(Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Due to rising influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases with winter approaching, both Providence Swedish and MultiCare clinics announced they would start requiring masking from visitors, patients and caregivers.

MultiCare started requiring masks in their facilities — located in Thurston, Kitsap, King and Pierce Counties — on Wednesday. Providence Swedish clinics and hospitals started requiring masks Tuesday.

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“I just started getting flashbacks of people running into Trader Joe’s proclaiming ‘I’m not wearing this mask!,’ flashbacks of when I was doing drivetime radio, when people would call in and say, ‘That’s like putting a chicken wire around your house and expecting dust to not get in, it doesn’t make any sense,'” Jack Stine, co-host of The Jack and Spike Show on KIRO Newsradio, said Wednesday.

“I’m all for debate. I’m all for reading consensus data. I’m all for spirited argumentation around your stance on a particular thing,” Jack continued. “Saying that wearing an N95 mask, which is designed to filter out particulates, is equivalent to putting chicken coop wire around your home is absurdism of the highest order.”

According to data from King County, visits to the emergency room relating to influenza and RSV cases have steadily climbed since October, with RSV emergency visits occurring nearly three times the 0.3% county-wide threshold. When the amount of cases relating to influenza or RSV crosses 0.3% of the total amount of emergency room visits, it’s a sign that there is substantial spread of that virus, according to the threshold system.

In King County, there were 166 emergency room visits due to RSV in a seven-day period two weeks ago.

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“This is because (Providence Swedish) reached the threshold of about 3%, right? So, whenever you’re in any county, once you get about a 3-5% infection rate, it triggers a policy within certain hospitals that now people have to wear masks, right? It’s not weird. It’s not bizarre,” Jack said. “However, people are now making it bizarre and I think there’s a lot of trauma that people have around the imposition of the state coming in and ruining people’s lives.”

The mandatory mask policy will remain until both RSV and influenza cases dip below the threshold and stay below for at least two weeks, according to the Northwest Healthcare Response Network guidelines.

“It’s a hospital making a decision, following federal guidelines,” Jack said. “Let’s not get totally crazy here.”

Listen to Jack and Spike weekdays from noon-3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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