Snohomish County requiring masks indoors for all over age 5, starting Thursday

Beginning this Thursday, everyone in Snohomish County, age 5 and up, “must wear masks in indoor public places.” County leaders say new COVID-19 cases are surging, hospital intensive care units are now 90% full and positive test rates jumped from 2-3% of people tested to more than 10% now.

Dr. Chris Spitters

The mask directive issued by the Snohomish Health District’s Chief Officer, Dr. Chris Spitters, means wearing masks in grocery stores, shops, child care, schools, transit, health care offices – anywhere inside where people gather. Spitters put it this way: “We need your help to get it (COVID) back under control.”

The mask directive does not apply to outdoor gatherings, although Spitters strongly encourages people to mask up outside. State regulations already require that everyone who is unvaccinated must already wear masks. The numbers help tell the story.

  • New COVID cases have doubled to 1,300 in three weeks.
  • We now average 280 new cases a week for each 100,000 residents. That means the CDC considers us a “high transmission county.“
  • One of every 10 people tested last week was positive for the virus.
  • Hospitalizations are triple what they were three weeks ago.
  • ICU beds are at 90% capacity – with 62 COVID patients – four of those on ventilators.
Dave Somers

County Executive Dave Somers told reporters that “if you want to live you should get vaccinated.”

He cited his three takeaways in the surge of the Delta variant, which is much more contagious than previous strains. “The consensus”, said Somers, “is that if you haven’t had COVID yet and are not vaccinated, you will likely get it.” He added if you haven’t been vaccinated, you face “much more risk of serious illness or death.”  And third – Somers added – the vaccine is “very effective at keeping people out of hospitals and healthier. It is safe, it’s effective and it’s our path out of this.”

Spitters said the virus surge is “no coincident.” He sees is as a convergence of three things – the much more contagious Delta variant, an incomplete vaccine effort, and reduced prevention efforts over the past month. Spitters added that only 54% of county residents are fully vaccinated. That means, he said, that nearly 250,000 people over the age of 12 have not even started a vaccine regimen. That’s on top of 125,000 children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for a vaccine. Both leaders noted that vaccination increased in the first week of August, but Spitters said, “we need to go faster than that.”

Asked if the new surge would lead to an order to vaccinate all public employees in the county, similar to the one Gov. Jay Inslee issued for state workers, Somers said: “We just got the details (of the governors’ plan) yesterday; we’re looking at those requirements to see how they might apply to the county.”

Could the county go backward and impose business restrictions again? “That possibility is always out there,” Spitters told reporters. “We have to protect and preserve the community and prevent death and suffering – anything is potentially on the table.” He said officials will evaluate the case numbers week by week.

What worries Spitter most is “our collective exhaustion with this pandemic.”

“I’m tired of it,” Spitters added, “my family is tired of it; it’s exhausting. We all want it to be over but it’s not.” History, he added, teaches us that is not the way this virus goes.

— By Bob Throndsen




  1. It would be good to require all city and county workers to be vaccinated (except certain cases). This way, at work meetings greater than ten minutes, the vaccinated employees will not be taking risks with long term exposure. Thank you.

  2. Wow, surprised MEN posted your comment…..all mine are inexplicably no shows. Guess you have to be part of the hive mind around here to have freedom of speech. So glad we are leaving this state.

    1. Many of these comments reflect similar statements that have been made many times before. I understand there are people who are not happy and yet there are people who support this. I am trying to approve comments that reflect a variety of viewpoints, not necessarily every comment.

  3. Well, for now I will drive to King County to shopping and dining. When they follow Snohomish, I will rely on Amazon. Absolutely ridiculous for vaccinated people to be forced to wear masks. The vaccine has proven to be effective. Total and complete government power overreach.

    1. Understandably, it can be frustrating for people to find out that science is not finite. It is frustrating for people when they hear answers change as they unfold, as we learn more and grow more. People are frustrated because they want answers and they want those answers to be final. Final answers are really more of a Math thing, not Science. Math is final, like vote counts. Science evolves and changes and grows as new things come into existence, like mutations.

      But yes, sure, how great it would be if we already knew all the things in science and medicine and no longer had to discover or experiment or die. Is it really so hard to believe that we don’t know everything there is to know yet and that we continue to learn new things every day? Are we really so lacking in wonder and imagination?

      “Science” is not your scapegoat

      1. Science has been the scapegoat of elected and non-elected individuals to institute their protocols and cover poor decision making.

        Fortunately, my background and experience has taught me to “zoom out” on issues and think about second and third order effects and impacts.

        1. Mike, I don’t think it’s helpful to be talking scapegoats and poor decision-making. When the vaccines were first developed, we didn’t know if vaccinated people could still become infected enough to spread the virus~ but now we know they can. Vaccines greatly reduce the risk of serious illness and death, and they reduce the spread of the virus, but they don’t eliminate it entirely. Thus the need to mask up again, vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.

          I took my Pfizer shots in March, and I came down with a cold in late July. I quickly got COVID tested to make sure I didn’t have the virus (I didn’t). The last thing I wanted to be was a vaccinated person out shedding virus on others.

          Masks are not perfect (nothing is) but they reduce the risk of inhaling the virus and exhaling it onto others. Mask up, folks.

      2. Science is always supposed to be falsifiable. The S-word isn’t even falsifiable any more, so whatever you’re talking about is not Science. This is a new religion; built-in with prophets, original sin, vaccinated snake handling, and faith. Say there was a scientific study (or multiple for that matter) that consistently proved masks don’t work. “Well those scientists aren’t real scientists, which is why our science church broke off from them.” The coffee shops and school are our holy land, so let’s put the unvaccinated on a strip on the side of town. The scientists created the virus (just like god created original sin), the apostles preach and punish us for it, we need to follow rituals to atone, and we aren’t allowed to blame the scientists [god] for creating the dilemma in the first place.

      3. Chris,

        Thank you. For all of what you said above, and for continuing to stand up for taking personal responsibility and working together to beat this virus that has claimed well over 600,00 lives, thank you. You are clear, direct, and compassionate while remaining diplomatic. Thank you.

  4. Williams’ claim that police “are prevented from enforcing the law in most cases” is false.

    1. Law is created in Congress. Agencies/Administrators can create Code>>Policy>>Rules. Even Jay Inslee cannot create laws. Snohomish County appointees aren’t even codifying mask mandates. It’s not statutory. There is no legal vehicle for police to enforce this. However, there is also no checks and balances these days either. What government agency is going to keep jack-boots in check? Only the Sherriff, perhaps, is able to protect us from some cop showing up to our businesses and citing us with breaking “laws” published on the Snohomish County myspace page by unelected appointees. Olympia should pass a law if they really want a mandate, like wearing your seatbelt.

  5. This is what happens when people of lesser ability are elected to office who then go on to hire hacks to head up departments. They get a bit of a rush from exerting power over the populace and just don’t want to let it go. There is zero reason for any of the actions taken as while there may be more cases, the death count is not spiraling up and still remains in the same compromised group as from the beginning of this debacle. Going forward it will be never ending restrictions , wearing of dehumanizing tyranny rags, threats of killing your livelihood and extorting you to get whatever “shot” is required. Time to take the Red pill folks.

  6. With all due respect, even the Lone Ranger wore a mask. It would seem all the responders on this subject are men. I hope that all of you and your loved ones, are safe from virus infections, and even if you have had the opportunity and the determination to be vaccinated, many others have not. Group think is not necessarily wisdom. Compromised immune systems make some more vulnerable than others.

    1. Respectfully Roselee, if you think this is about masculinity, you have spent way too much time on Twitter. This is about people being sick and tired of having unelected officials tell us how to think, dress, and act, and punish us with corresponding laws. I got vaccinated. That’s it. That’s the end game. There is nothing else coming. If this doesn’t stop COVID NOTHING WILL. I am done.

  7. I am always reminded of petulant children when I hear of vaccine resisters. “You can’t make me! I don’t wanna!” The adults reply… “But it’s good for you. It will make you big and strong.”
    The resisters should take some responsibility as members of a community. Whatever their beliefs, that will not keep them from getting sick and spreading the virus.
    We need more responses like New Jersey governor Phil Murphy. “Frankly, enough is enough,” he said in an interview last Thursday. “The irresponsibility, the amount of people who are getting sick and dying because of these people believing in falsehoods — they need to be called out.”

  8. Masks vs, No Masks – Vax vs no Vax is an immature point to argue. If we are truly Americans that care about the safety and well being of all of Americans, we will do anything to protect one another. Please think of this as a collective effort to stop this vicious virus. Don’t experience the emotion of people you love suffering from this again. PLEASE!!

  9. Can we agree that you can’t hide from a virus? Can you slow the spread – yes. Will some have natural immunity – yes. Will some react differently than others – yes? One solution does not work for all people. That is why consulting with your doctor about your personal health issues should be left to the doctors and not to elected and non-elected individuals.

    Great breakthroughs and horrible atrocities have been made in the name of science and religion. Just study the past. Perspective matters.

    1. I’m closing this discussion as there’s been a wide range of thoughts expressed.

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