On Saturday, March 12, Washington State will begin to relax its indoor mask requirements in response to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COVID-19 cases and new hospitalizations have rapidly declined in the last few weeks across the state, and in Whatcom County, cases have fallen to pre-Omicron levels.
However, many people are still concerned about COVID-19 due to their health issues, children too young to be vaccinated, or loved ones with compromised immune systems. For them, masks remain an effective method of protection against COVID-19. Although you might be ready to stop wearing your mask, please protect and respect others who are too young to be vaccinated or have compromised immune systems by keeping your mask handy and respecting the rules of the room you’re in.
If you are healthy and have received your vaccine and booster shots, the risks of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 are extraordinarily small. But consider the people around you. Ask yourself “Who is the most vulnerable person in your immediate circle?” Masks are still a good idea if you are unvaccinated as well as around children less than five years old and people with compromised immune systems.
While many public places will not require masks, there are still many places where requirements will remain in effect. Also, local governments are still able to enact local mask requirements (although Whatcom County does not currently plan to do so, given our current circumstances), and private businesses may still require masks for entry.
Masks are still required in:
Healthcare and medical facilities, including hospitals, outpatient, dental facilities and pharmacies
Long-term care settings
Public transit, taxis, and rideshare vehicles (federal requirement)
Private businesses and local governments that want to require masks for their employees, customers or residents
Remember, if you are feeling sick and have symptoms, it is still recommended that you get tested and follow isolation protocols.