[February 17] COVID-19 trends give leaders confidence to look towards next phase of pandemic response
With dropping hospitalization rates, improving vaccination rates, and broad access to masks and tests, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the state can soon move into a less restrictive phase of the COVID-19 response. The lifting of statewide measures does not prohibit local governments from the ability to enact measures in response to COVID-19 activity in their communities.
Inslee and leaders from the state Department of Health said the combination of dropping COVID-19 hospitalization rates and efficacy of vaccines in preventing severe illness and hospitalization are important indicators that statewide requirements can begin to loosen.
Governor Inslee announced a statewide update to emergency orders:
- Beginning March 21, face masks will no longer be required in most settings, including K-12 schools and childcare facilities.
- Masks will still be required in health care settings such as hospitals, outpatient and dental offices, as well as long term care settings and correctional facilities.
- In addition, beginning March 1, vaccine verification for large events will no longer be required.
- Businesses and local governments can still choose to implement vaccination or face mask requirements for workers or customers, and school districts can still choose to have students and teachers wear masks. Federal law still requires face masks in certain settings such as public transportation and school buses.