Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman on Thursday announced a statewide requirement for businesses — as of July 7 — to require face coverings of all employees and customers.
Under this proclamation, businesses may not serve any customer — either services or goods — if they do not comply with the statewide face covering order.
The extension comes in response to growing case counts in counties across the state, and after last week’s proclamation mandating the same requirement of businesses in Yakima County.
“We’re doing this because of a spike in cases of COVID-19 all over the state,” Inslee said. “The better we can protect ourselves from the virus, the better we can avoid repeating some of the painful measures we had to take in the spring to shutdown the economy.”
Wiesman added that “the trends we are seeing in our communities and across the country are concerning and should make all of us stand to attention. We must redouble our efforts to keep our physical distance, wear our face coverings and limit the number of people we see each week.”
The governor is also ordering a statewide pause on advancing counties from their current phases under Safe Start. Additionally, there will be additional restrictions on bars: Drinks will no longer be served from the bar and people can’t congregate at the bar in Phase 3. Bars will still be able to provide table service.
“I would love to tell you when this emergency will be over, but emergencies, by nature, work by their own rules, not ours,” Inslee said. “Until there are widely available treatments to suppress the spread and the effects of COVID-19, this fight continues.”
The face covering requirement for businesses will be monitored by the state Department of Labor and Industries. There are exemptions to the previous Department of Health order, including people with certain disabilities or health conditions, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and children under the age of 2. The order does not require customers to document or prove a reason for not wearing a face covering. If a business won’t allow a customer to enter the office or store, the customer should ask what accommodations they can provide such as curbside pick-up, delivery or virtual meeting options.
“Like Governor Inslee and Secretary Wiesman, we are very concerned about the recent increase in cases being reported,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District. “This is what caused us last week to put a pause on plans for Phase 3. The numbers have continued to go in the wrong direction, with our case rates having doubled in Snohomish County since the beginning of June.”
This is not due to an increase in testing, the heath district stressed in an announcement Thursday. The number of tests submitted weekly has been stable, but the numbers of positive results are increasing. Local health care providers are also reporting increased demand for testing from people with COVID symptoms.
“We are in a very precarious situation and need everyone in Snohomish County working together to again flatten the curve and get back on track,” added Spitters. “If we all follow the guidelines for Phase 2, limit non-essential trips, wear face coverings when out of the home, maintain that social distancing, and practice good hand hygiene, we’ll hopefully be in a better position to move forward when eligible.”
When celebrating the July 4th holiday, the health district reminds residents that Phase 2 social gathering rules apply – no more than five people outside of your household in a seven-day period. That means a small get-together with family or a few friends is allowed to celebrate the holiday, but not a large barbecue or festival. That’s a damper on many plans, but a large gathering can spread COVID quickly. One positive case at a gathering can mean that dozens of people need to quarantine, get tested, and may potentially become ill and spread the illness to others in their own households or social circles.
The health district continues to recommend that individuals who attend any large gathering remain at home for 14 days following the event. It is especially important to follow this recommendation when attending an event where not all attendees can be identified or where social distancing was not maintained.
As a reminder, quarantine means staying at home for the full 14-day duration of time following possible exposure. This means not going to work, visiting with others or having guests over, or running errands. People should not leave their home except for a medical appointment or to get tested.
Not only are large gatherings at a higher risk of becoming a super-spreader event, but they also present significant challenges to public health staff in being able to quickly identify and contact those potentially exposed. Both of these impact target metrics needed for future phases in the Safe Start plan, and potentially jeopardize remaining the current phase or having to go backward to Phase 1.
Here is the health district’s drive-thru testing schedule for July 6-10
- Monday, July 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at McCollum Park located at 600 128th St SE in Everett
- Tuesday, July 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sno-Isle Libraries branch located at 1070 Village Way in Monroe
- Wednesday, July 8 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at McCollum Park
- Thursday, July 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sno-Isle Libraries branch located at 4675 Harbour Pointe Blvd in Mukilteo
- Friday, July 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at McCollum Park
Testing will continue to be available to those who are:
- Sick and have developed any of the following symptoms within the last 14 days:
- Difficulty breathing,
- Muscle pain or body aches,
- Sore throat,
- Runny nose or nasal congestion, or
- New loss of taste or smell.
- Asymptomatic individuals who:
- Are a close contact of a confirmed case, or
- Live in a congregate setting, like a shelter, group home or assisted living facility, or
- Work in a location that has had a case,
- Part of a family or social network that has had a case, or
- Work in healthcare, EMS, law enforcement or other fields where work settings have a higher risk of catching or spreading COVID-19, or
- Are part of a racial or ethnic group that has been disproportionately impacted by this virus in terms of rate or severity of cases (this includes people who are Black, Latinx, Native American/Alaskan Native, or Pacific Islander), or
- Need testing as required for health care, employment, or travel.
Registration is now open at www.snohd.org/drive-thru-testing.