by Ben Adlin and Sally James
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.”
Continue reading Inslee: Indoor Mask Mandate Will Stay in Place for ‘Weeks Rather Than Months’
by Sally James
People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to prevent serious COVID-19 disease are eligible to get a booster, even if they don’t fall into any high-risk category. The Washington Dept. of Health (DOH) included this announcement in their virtual press conference on Oct. 27.
National vaccine regulators approved booster doses of vaccine for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines Oct. 20, but the recommendations differ depending on which vaccine a person originally took. Earlier this year, the Pfizer boosters were approved for people at high risk — from their age or occupation or an underlying medical condition. Regulators also approved only people at high risk, in the same categories, for Moderna boosters.
With the J&J vaccine, health officials urge all people, even those younger and with no extra risks, to come in and get a booster vaccine dose two months after their original shot of J&J. The reason for allowing boosters sooner for everyone with J&J is that a single shot seems to be less effective at protecting people than the other two-shot vaccines. The DOH estimates about 393,000 people in Washington state had a J&J vaccine.
Continue reading Boosters Open Up for Wider Group, Vaccine Likely for Children 5–11
by Sally James
Nothing about COVID-19 follows a predictable path. This week is no exception. In the past few days, there was a mixed bag of encouraging news and news of concern, both nationally and locally.
Overall, the state case rate continues to drop. According to the Washington State Dept. of Health (DOH) there are 234 cases per 100,000 people, and of those, 11 per 100,000 are in the hospital. Both numbers are down from earlier this month.
But that good news is tinged with the reality that these are still close to numbers during the peak of last winter’s surge. Taking care of COVID-19 patients has forced hospitals to delay treatment for other patients, especially in Spokane.
Continue reading COVID-19 Numbers Show We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet