Washington State Implements Mandatory Face Mask Rule After County Runs Out Of Hospital Beds

As COVID-19 cases rose dramatically in Olympia, Washington recently, Governor Jay Inslee announced that the state is making it mandatory for people to wear masks when they are out of their homes as authorities struggle with preventing a large-scale spread of the virus.

Inslee said the new rule, which he stressed is a “legal requirement,” will take effect from Friday, June 26, and will apply to people and businesses across the state.

“I think this is something we can get used to,” he said. “Because we care about others around us.”

The announcement came only a few days after King County, which has been at the center of the coronavirus pandemic in Washington, officially went on to phase 2 as part of a plan to restart the state’s economy.

Governor Inslee held a press conference in which he announced the mandatory face mask rule. 

Nevertheless, Yakima County is increasingly becoming the focus of efforts to contain the virus.

According to the governor, Yakima County has run out of hospital beds to treat COVID patients due to the sudden rise in the number of patients who have fallen ill. Furthermore, the Yakima Health District said last Tuesday that the healthcare system in the US was exceeding capacity due to the continuous COVID-19 outbreak and that hospitals were short of beds.

Inslee stressed that not wearing a protective mask would be punishable as a misdemeanor crime. 

He added that there are exemptions to the rule, which include children younger than 5 years of age, people who cannot wear masks due to medical conditions, deaf people who need to have their mouth free in order to communicate, and when the situation demands it, which includes people who are eating out at a restaurant.

During the conference, the governor said the number of infected seems to be going up as the state has allowed more counties to reopen, and he said protective equipment and social distancing have been the only things that have been proven to slow down the spread.

He said it is the face mask rule will most likely remain in place until a vaccine is found or some other medication significantly changes the circumstances. 

During the press conference, the governor was joined by Secretary of Health John Wiesman and Craig Jelinek, the head of Costco, which has implemented a similar rule for its workers and customers.

“I think it’s the only way to go,” Jelinek said, noting that his retailer has seen positive outcomes since imposing a face mask rule. “I support this decision 100 percent.”

What are your thoughts on this story? Let us know by joining the conversation in the comments and please share this article if you’ve found it informative. 

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