King and Pierce Counties to require masks for outdoor events, regardless of vaccination status

SEATTLE — King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin issued an update to the King County mask order on Thursday and Pierce County Director of Health Dr. Anthony Chen issued an update on Friday requiring masks at any outdoor event with 500 or more people in attendance.

The King County order comes amid the recent surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the delta variant and the increasing strain on the health care system, according to a news release from King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The order applies to all people, 5 years of age and older, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, and goes into effect on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

The news release urges anyone aged 5 and older that cannot remain 6 feet apart from non-household members to wear a mask.

“King County is committed to putting people first, and today’s order fully recognizes the risk to communities and our healthcare system if we don’t take action now to further prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Constantine.

King County has one of the highest vaccination rates of any large metro area in the United States. However, there are still an estimated 750,000 people in King County who remain unvaccinated, which includes children under 12 who don’t have the option of getting vaccinated.

There are approximately 320,000 King County residents who are eligible for vaccination and remain unvaccinated.

“We will continue to adapt our response measures to the reality of the evolving COVID-19 outbreak. The Delta variant is more contagious through the air, causes more severe illness in adults, and we have a high level of community transmission in King County and Washington state,” said Duchin.

Masks will continue to be required in King County for all indoor settings for everyone 5 and older.

Pierce County issued a countywide health order late Friday requiring everyone 5 years of age and older must wear a face covering at any outdoor event with 500 or more people, regardless of vaccination status, beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 7.