Washington ‘not returning to broad mask requirements’ amid uptick in COVID-19 cases

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Though Washington is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the state is not returning to any broad mask requirements.

There has not been an increase in COVID-19 deaths in the state so far, Washington state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah said Wednesday.

However, Shah said the state health department still recommends wearing a mask in indoor spaces, confined spaces and shared areas with poor ventilation.

“The pandemic is not over — please continue to use all the tools at your disposal for protection: masks, vaccinations, boosters and social distancing when ill,” Shah said in a tweet.

While no broad mask requirements are in effect in Washington, masks are still required in hospitals, health care, long-term care and correctional facilities.

Shah said there are four crucial ways to protect yourself from COVID-19 at this time:

• Stay up to date on vaccines, including booster shots.

• Wear a mask in crowded spaces.

• Be conscious of social distancing.

• Optimize testing and treatment plans.

Anyone who is at risk of severe illness is asked to speak with their health care provider about the best ways to protect themselves.

The call to wear masks in crowded indoor places is echoed by people who are recovering from COVID-19, like Courtney Peters.

She’s fully vaccinated and boosted and said she had been so careful during the pandemic, she even quit her job to limit her exposure.

Then Peters attended the Seattle Storm opener earlier this month, where some fans were masked and others were not.

“I didn’t take my mask off at all, I wore a KN95 the whole time, and somehow I still got COVID,” Peters said. “I had horrible hay fever symptoms, an awful headache, and just bone-crushing lethargy.”

Peters said the infection knocked her down for five days. “Just because you don’t have to wear a mask doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.”