The endemic phase is imminent? Washington’s mask mandate is ending soon

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It’s the end of the nationwide indoor mask mandate as we know it.

That’s not as catchy as REM’s original – no matter how apocalyptic, for what it’s worth – and not everyone feels comfortable. Let’s try again: It’s the end of the legislature as we know it. Now they play our song.

The 2022 legislature ends on March 10, ending a short but packed season for KUOW’s Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins. The state’s mask mandate will be lifted two days later, on March 12. Then the political pressure will shift from state legislatures to local officials and business owners.

They will still be able to decide if they want their own mask requirements in local jurisdictions and shops. And that means that, in one way or another, they will bear the brunt of the people who resent their decisions.

DO YOU FEEL BEAUTIFUL PYSCHET?

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee previously said the state’s mandate for indoor masks would be lifted on March 21, but he accelerated the timeline to March 12 after the CDC updated its guidance.

Inslee had used hospitalizations to determine when the state might relax its rules; Specifically, he wanted Covid hospitalizations to drop to five per 100,000 people (King County currently has 90.2 cases per 100,000). Now, in accordance with the CDC, the state uses disease activity as a key metric instead.

Some counties in Washington are still in the CDC high-activity category. But Inslee believes these districts will have returned to medium or low activity by March 12.

Even on Inslee’s previously preferred metric, Washington State performs better; The state has already dropped to nine hospitalizations per 100,000 residents, according to the latest state data.

Inslee didn’t say what would need to happen to trigger the mask mandate again, but he said the state is always looking at new variants. State Secretary for Health Dr. Umair Shah when the governor brought forward the term of office.

“We know it’s getting better, but we also know the pandemic isn’t over yet,” Shah said. “We will do everything we can to protect Washingtonians. We also just want to encourage you to do whatever it takes to get on with your life while keeping health and safety in mind.”

Bottom line: don’t throw away all your masks just yet. And have your home Covid tests ready in case of a further surge in cases. Every Washington household can now order two free test kits from the state each month while supplies last. here.

“I FEEL GOOD”

Just because the nationwide mandate is gone doesn’t mean you can count on going mask-free everywhere. Business owners can set their own rules for customers and employees. They are also still required to dress up in healthcare facilities such as hospitals. Individual counties may also choose to set their own standards.

KUOW’s Kate Walters has been following King County’s plans; Visit our Covid blog for more information as the pandemic becomes endemic statewide.

TIED TOGETHER: Who will keep their masks on after mandates end?

King County will lift local mask orders concurrently with the end of the state requirement. Officials are asking people to continue to “respect the rules of the room you are in” when it comes to masking after March 12. Individuals can choose to wear a mask whether they are required to do so or not; Some people, like those who are immunocompromised, may still be at risk of catching a severe case of Covid.

When it comes to schools King County leaves the decision up to the districts. Some districts, like Mercer Island and Lake Washington, have already said masking will become optional if the state’s mandate is lifted.

However, students are still required to mask themselves at Seattle Public Schools. In a statement, the district says all staff, students and visitors must continue to wear a mask until further notice; The school district must negotiate with the Seattle Education Association before making any permanent changes to this policy.

Seattle Education Association President Jennifer Matter says the union is in no rush to see mask abolition. She says some educators are immunocompromised, pregnant, or parents of young children who can’t be vaccinated, and they want to center those voices when making that decision.

If the union has a say, Matter says that the mask requirement at SPS would be lifted on May 1st at the earliest.

CURRENTLY IN OLYMPICS

With just about a week left in the 2022 legislative session, House and Senate Democrats have yet to agree on a final supplementary budget — updating the state’s current biennium.

They propose significant new spending in key areas, including K-12 education, behavioral health and continuing to address crises such as lack of affordable housing and homelessness.

Much was also said in this session about the reform of the emergency powers. A bill has passed the state Senate but has not yet come to a vote in the House of Representatives.

Also, lawmakers have considered changes to some of last year’s police reform measures, a proposal rejected by some families of people killed by police.

And, of course, the big $16 billion transportation financing package that Democrats have enacted has drawn a lot of attention and some controversy. They need to set the record for that before heading home to 2023 next week.

With just about a week left in the 2022 legislative session, House and Senate Democrats have yet to agree on a final supplementary budget — updating the state’s current biennium.

They propose significant new spending in key areas including K-12 education and behavioral health. They also continue to grapple with crises such as the lack of affordable housing and homelessness.

Much was also said in this session about the reform of the emergency powers. A bill has passed the state Senate but has not yet come to a vote in the House of Representatives.

Also, lawmakers have considered changes to some of last year’s police reform measures, a proposal rejected by some families of people killed by police.

And, of course, the big $16 billion transportation financing package that Democrats have enacted has drawn a lot of attention and some controversy. They need to set the record for that before heading home to 2023 next week.

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