Statewide Indoor Mask Mandate Lifting on March 21

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February 17, 2022

This afternoon, Governor Inslee announced that the statewide indoor mask mandate will be lifted on Monday, March 21, 2022. This mandate, which includes indoor locations such as restaurants, grocery stores, malls, and public-facing offices, has been in effect since August 23, 2021. Beginning on March 21, the mandate will also be lifted for K-12 schools and childcare locations throughout the state.

As a reminder, the statewide outdoor mask mandate is scheduled to end tomorrow, Friday, February 18. The state will stop requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for entry to large events beginning on Tuesday, March 1.

K-12 schools will still be required to report COVID cases and work with local Public Health Departments to monitor disease activity. Routine testing, isolation, and quarantine protocols will also remain in place per the CDC’s guidance. Current “requirements” regarding distance, ventilation, and sanitation in schools will be downgraded to “recommendations”, with new guidance expected from the state by March 7.

The lifting of the indoor mask mandate will not include certain indoor settings considered to be at high-risk for disease spread. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, healthcare settings, long-term care facilities, and correctional facilities. Additionally, the federal mask mandate is still in effect and requires masking on all forms of public transportation, including buses, trains, and airplanes, and in transportation hubs.

Following the lifting of the mandate, Washingtonians can continue to wear a mask if they so choose. This goes for businesses, as well, who will retain the right to choose stricter masking requirements if desired.

There may be certain settings where wearing a mask makes sense, like when caring for someone who is high-risk, if you are sick, if you’re in a location where social distancing isn’t possible, or if you are not fully vaccinated. Those who are at greater risk because of factors such as their age or underlying health condition are encouraged to continue to take extra precautions.

For additional information on Governor Inslee’s announcement, please visit wwww.governor.wa.gov or call the State COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127. For general questions related to COVID-19, you may contact Skagit County Public Health at (360) 416-1500.


Public Health Reminder: Masking Still Critical this Holiday Season

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December 1, 2021

The holidays are upon us. As Skagitonians are out and about preparing for holiday festivities, please remember: masking is still critical—and required—in all indoor public spaces AND certain outdoor settings. This includes all local businesses, chain outlets, and grocery stores.

The statewide mask mandate requires that all people five years of age and older must wear a mask in public indoor settings and at large, outdoor events with 500 or more attendees, including sporting events, fairs, parades, and concerts, regardless of vaccination status.

There are some exceptions to the mask requirement, including children under five years of age, and people with a medical or mental health condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask. Children between 2 and 4 years of age can, and are encouraged, to wear a mask under close adult supervision. Children under 2 should not wear masks.

Face masks remain an important tool in preventing transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Though Skagit County is just over 60 percent fully vaccinated, there are still many folks, including young children, who are not protected.

Science has shown that masking works. COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets when infected people—many of whom do not exhibit COVID-19 symptoms—cough, sneeze, or talk. Evidence shows that wearing a mask reduces an infected person’s chance of spreading the infection to others.

Furthermore, it is imperative that people wear their mask properly. To be effective, a mask must cover the nose, mouth, and chin, and must fit snuggly against one’s face. For tips on getting the best fit, visit the CDC’s mask guidance webpage here.

Wearing a mask when out in the community is an easy way to show your neighbors and favorite businesses that you care this holiday season. Please help our local businesses operate smoothly this season by following all state and local rules and guidance.

Another great way to ensure that things run smoothly for the holidays is by taking precautions at home. If unvaccinated, please remember that masking is still recommended when gathering with non-household members, especially when indoors. COVID-19 can easily spread in these types of environments, causing folks to miss out on school, work, and fun, festive holiday events.

Have a wonderful holiday season, Skagit! Be well!


Child with face mask

Tips for Face Covering for Kids

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Beginning Friday, June 26, Washington State now requires everyone to wear a cloth face covering in public when they cannot maintain six feet of distance from others. Here are some answers to questions that parents and other caregivers might have about face coverings and children. 

When does the face covering requirement apply to children? 

The requirement applies to children ages five years and older, unless they are medically directed to do otherwise. The Washington State Department of Health strongly recommends, but does not require, children who are two to four years old use face coverings in public settings under the close supervision of an adult. Children who are younger than two should never wear face coverings. With smaller airways, breathing through masks are difficult for little ones. For infants, there may be an increased risk of suffocation. Also, older infants and young toddlers are likely to pull the mask off, resulting in them touching their face more often. The risks outweigh the benefits for children younger than two years old.

Children older than five do not need to wear face coverings when they are at home or in the car if they are only with people from their own household. They also do not need to wear a face covering when playing outdoors when they can maintain six feet of social distance from others. When you are outdoors as a family, it is a good idea to keep face coverings in a pocket or bag to use in case you come across other people from whom you cannot stay six feet away.

What are some tips for encouraging younger children to wear face coverings?

ParentMap recently published an article with some great tips on encouraging children to wear face coverings. The advice includes:

  • Children often learn through play; you can introduce the idea by placing a face covering or mask on your child’s favorite doll or stuffed animal.
  • Buy or make masks in patterns that match your child’s interests. If your child is into unicorns or superheroes, choose a pattern that they will be excited to wear.
  • Practice wearing a face covering at home, even if it is just for a few minutes. This is especially important if your kids are headed to a place where a face covering is required, like on an airplane flight. 

What should I look for in face coverings?

The face covering should fit securely over your child’s nose and mouth. If you are purchasing one, look for washable covering made from multiple layers of tightly woven fabric. Every child is different so you might need to try a few styles and sizes before finding one that works best.

If you would like to make your own, there many tutorials online that can be made without any sewing skills and with materials you probably already have at home. The CDC has several easy-to-follow templates and mask-making instructions on its website

How should I care for my child’s face coverings?

It is safest to wash your face covering after each wear because it has the potential to be contaminated when you are out in public. The best practice is for children and caregivers to wash or sanitize their hands before putting on and after removing their face coverings. You should try to avoid touching the outside of the covering by folding it carefully and storing it in a private place, such as a personal plastic zip-top bag.

Finally, it is important to remember that wearing masks enhances but does not replace the other prevention measures that we have already been doing. We all still need to stay home when we are sick, keep six feet away from others, and wash our hands frequently.