EDMONDS, Wash. - The Snohomish Health District issued a new mask directive for everyone 5-years-old and up in Snohomish County starting Aug. 12. Health officer Dr. Chris Spitters said the face coverings will be required indoors, including:
- Public Spaces: retail, grocery stores and government buildings
- Public Transportation: buses, planes, trains, etc.
- Healthcare: medical/dental clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities
- Congregate Settings: schools, correctional facilities and shelters
During a weekly COVID-19 briefing, Spitters said the number of reported cases over the past three weeks doubled. In the week ending on July 24, there were 651 new cases reported, and in the week ending on August 7, there were 1,300 new cases reported.
"Last week we had more than 600 close contacts identified in child care facilities alone, and at least 15 long-term care facilities currently have at least one confirmed case," said Spitters. "We’ve also seen our testing sites around the county see some of the highest volumes and positivity rates to date. Our situation is quite alarming and we must act now."
In downtown Edmonds, some businesses already had signs posted requiring customers to wear a mask. For some people, putting a face-covering back on is not a tough request.
"Protect everybody—young ones, old ones, white ones, black ones, everybody. Put it on!" said Sheila Anderson while walking through downtown Edmonds. " Let’s keep everybody safe right now. Let’s not let it get to where it was, let’s not go backward. Not today, not this month, not next year either."
"COVID is still a real issue in our community. It’s important for us to wear our masks and do our part," said Nomin Ulziisaikhan, while visiting downtown Edmonds.
Health officers are also encouraging social distance measures in crowded places. Keeping safe space is easy for Ken Bellingham to do while working in the back of Edmonds Bakery when it’s busy.
"I would like to see customers wearing masks when they come in here, just for their own protection and our protection. I’m going in to have surgery next month, so I’m going to be very concerned about my condition," said Bellingham.
Representatives from the Washington State Department of Health, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and Public Health-Seattle & King County all said their departments are not requiring face coverings indoors. However, each agency is strongly encouraging masks, even for those who are fully vaccinated.
Some people in Edmonds said they never stopped wearing their mask.
"Gives me a little peace of mind, especially since my neighborhood is filled with elderly. So, I’m pretty concerned about giving it to them," said Marshall Roberts, a local high school student.
Spitters said only 54 percent of eligible people in Snohomish County are fully vaccinated. He mentioned the county did see an increase in people initiating vaccinations during the first week of August.
Health officers said the mandate will be in effect until transmission rates are low again. A full report of the directive is available on the health district’s website.
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