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Should I wear a mask?
Should I get a second COVID-19 booster vaccine?
Suddenly, questions and answers about staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic seem as mercurial as Seattle’s spring weather, where it may rain, hail, or shine depending on the hour and where you are.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Feb. 28 that State mandates for indoor masking would lift on March 12.
“We must still be mindful that many within our communities remain vulnerable. Many businesses and families will continue choosing to wear masks, because we’ve learned how effective they are at keeping one another safe,” he cautioned in a written announcement.
Washington’s universal indoor mask mandate will remain in place for now, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon, but he added that he plans to announce next week a target date to lift the statewide restriction. Inslee did announce that the state’s current outdoor mask mandate, which applies to events with more than 500 people, would be lifted by Feb. 18.
If data — specifically admissions at hospitals across the state — suggest the indoor mandate can be safely removed without leading to a spike in cases, Inslee said, he expects that masks will be optional in a matter of “weeks rather than months.”
The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.
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Morning Update Show — Tuesday, September 7
Rising Rents Across the Region | Compassion Seattle Won’t Appear on the Ballot | Mask Rules for King County Take Effect | Mu Variant Now Found in 49 States | Franklin HS Football Breaks an 8-Year Losing Streak | We Buy Black | #WelcomeBackSeattle
Health officials stressed the importance of vaccination as well as practicing social distancing and wearing masks, even in places where people are not required to do so, to protect students as they return to schools amid a spike in coronavirus cases caused by the delta variant across Washington State.
In a Sept. 2 press conference, health officials said that despite the surge in cases and concerns about hospital bed availability, it is important for the wellness of young people that they return to school. Officials emphasized masking, social distancing, vaccination for eligible students aged 12 and above, and observing COVID protocols in families’ daily lives.
The COVID-19 delta variant is behind the latest surge of coronavirus cases, prompting new mask mandates, and raising a lot of new questions, including about the safety of unvaccinated school children and playing sports.
This week we look at some new questions and rely on County and State health officials for the latest guidance.
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
Mask Mandates a Thing (Again) & Public School Employees, Others, Required to Get Vaccine
Gov. Jay Inslee announced during an in-person-only press conference held in an Olympia elementary school Wednesday, Aug. 18, that he would reinstate the statewide indoor mask mandate — for those vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. Inslee said in a tweet immediately following the press conference that COVID-19 cases are “skyrocketing” due — in large part, he said — to the delta variant and that “the best way to protect everyone is to get vaccinated and wear a mask.” He also announced that vaccinations would be required not only for those working in K–12 schools but also in “most childcare and early learning” as well as in higher education. In his tweet, Gov. Inslee listed out highlights of the new vaccine requirements for workers.
With the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 causing a rise in case counts and hospitalizations in both King County and Washington State among those who have not been vaccinated, local health authorities have revised masking guidelines.
On Monday, July 26, health officials from eight Puget Sound counties issued a joint statement recommending that all residents in those counties (including King, Pierce, and Snohomish) should wear masks in indoor public spaces.
“We recommend all residents wear facial coverings when in indoor public settings where the vaccination status of those around you is unknown,” the statement reads. “This step will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public, including customers and workers, help stem the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many parts of the state, and decrease the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.”
As King County prepares to reopen after more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions along with the rest of the state, Washingtonians still need to take precautions.
Washington State will officially reopen on Wednesday, June 30. This means that while vaccinated people will have the option to go maskless indoors — a step King County took on Tuesday, June 29, one day ahead of schedule — this does not mean that businesses cannot require people to wear masks inside, according to a June 29 press release from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office. The press release also suggests that large indoor and outdoor events require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Physical distancing restrictions will also be lifted and with the exception of large indoor events, there will be no more capacity restrictions.
However, this reopening also means that unvaccinated people and children under the age of 12 who are unable to get the vaccine will become more susceptible to contracting and spreading the virus, if they or their guardians do not take proper precautions. If you or a loved one is eligible to get the vaccine, walk-up appointments are available daily at many locations around King County, including pharmacies, clinics, and mass vaccination sites.
Stating in no uncertain terms that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent masking recommendations are “uncoordinated and counterproductive,” Public Health — Seattle & King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin announced in a May 20 press conference a new local health directive for all King County residents. The directive — which is effective immediately, regardless of vaccination status — asks that everyone continue to wear a mask in public indoor spaces, such as grocery stores.