Health officers throughout Washington urge all to wear masks

SEATTLE (AP) — Local health officers throughout Washington state have issued a joint statement recommending all residents wear facial coverings in indoor public settings where the vaccination status of other people is unknown.

The health officers from all local health jurisdictions in Washington on Thursday urged people to wear the masks, regardless of vaccination status.

“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,” the statement said.

Thurston County health officials in the state capital of Olympia went a step further Thursday, joining Snohomish County in requiring all residents ages 5 and up to wear masks in indoor public settings.

In those counties, anyone 5 and older — vaccinated or not — entering indoor spaces such as government buildings, grocery stores and other retail spaces will have to wear a mask.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Washington state since the pandemic began surpassed 500,000 this week, according to the state Department of Health. State health officials reported 3,095 new confirmed cases Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 500,434, The Seattle Times reported. More than 6,200 people in the state have died of COVID-19.

Washington’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen over the past two weeks from 977 new cases per day on July 28 to 2,949 new cases per day on Aug. 11, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

As of Tuesday, 70.7% of Washingtonians 12 and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Department of Health.

“Vaccinations are our best defense against COVID-19 and are safe, effective, and readily available for everyone age 12 and over. Please get yours immediately if you are not already vaccinated,” the officers’ joint statement said.

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