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Health - Public Health News

Posted on: June 23, 2020

Face Coverings Required Statewide in Washington

New face covering requirement starts Friday

Beginning Friday, June 26, everyone in Washington is required to wear a cloth face covering in public when you cannot stay six feet away from others. This is a public health order issued by Washington State Secretary of Health. 

This includes all indoor public spaces such as grocery stores, pharmacies, clinics, hardware stores, and other retail stores. It also includes outdoor public spaces when six feet of physical distance can’t be maintained. 

Are there exceptions?

According to information announced in a news conference today the following people are exempt:

  • Children under five, although the order strongly recommends mask wearing for children ages three and older. 
  • People with a medical condition or disability that prevents them from safely wearing a face covering. 
  • People who are deaf or hard of hearing when wearing a mask would interfere with communication between them and other people.

The order allows people to remove masks while dining in a restaurant and while doing outdoor activities alone or with household members, as long you stay six feet away from others you don’t live with. 

Why are face coverings a requirement now?

Secretary Wiesman based this decision on science and data. His order aligns with recommendations from Whatcom County health officials about mask-wearing. Data demonstrate that COVID-19 continues to spread in many areas of our state, including Whatcom County. 

How do face coverings make a difference?

Wearing a face covering has been a successful strategy used during other viral respiratory outbreaks, like SARS. It reduces the spread of infection by keeping droplets produced by breathing and speaking from being inhaled by others. 

You should also maintain other CDC-recommended strategies: stay home when sick, wash your hands, keep at least six feet from others, and get tested if you have symptoms. Taking these steps will help protect our community from illness and death caused by COVID-19. It will also help us reduce our case counts so we can apply for Phase 3 of the Washington Safe Start phased reopening plan. 

Each of us can make a difference in stopping the spread of COVID-19. The virus doesn’t spread on its own. People who are infected, whether they have symptoms or not, share it through contact with co-workers, friends, loved ones, and community members as they go about daily activities. Wearing a mask in public is one way for each of us to protect other people from getting COVID-19 and reduce the spread of infection across our community.

Have more questions about wearing masks?

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