Earlier this month the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced their plan to end the Secretary of Health Mask Order, which currently requires masking in healthcare, long-term care, and adult correctional facilities for people age 5 and older. This order is set to end Monday, April 3. Whatcom County Health and Community Services does not plan to issue additional masking requirements specific to Whatcom County at this time.
Facilities will decide whether or not to create their own masking requirements starting Monday, so be sure to check with your provider before your next visit to find out if a mask is needed. Even if a mask isn’t required, some people will still decide to wear a mask - especially people who are at higher risk of serious illness or who live with high-risk individuals.
As our community learns to live with COVID-19, our focus will increasingly be on protecting those at highest risk for severe disease. We, along with DOH, continue to recommend masks for anyone in a healthcare setting, including patients, healthcare providers, facility staff and visitors. We expect our local facilities to continue to require masks in areas they consider higher risk. A well-fitting, high quality mask is one of the most reliable things we can do to protect our most vulnerable.
The highest priority for any health facility is always the safety of patients and employees. Unlike many other activities, health care is not optional. Health care is essential to getting well when you are sick, and staying well through preventative care. Every patient deserves to feel safe from acquiring a preventable infection when seeking health care.
As we approach the end of State masking requirements, please be kind to others and understanding of facilities that keep masking requirements in place for the safety of patients and employees.