Story at a glance
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued a public health mandate requiring people to wear masks in public.
- The hospitalizations in Washington remain relatively low.
Washington state issued a statewide mandate Tuesday making facial coverings or masks a requirement when venturing in public. The new rule will take effect on Friday.
The Associated Press (AP) reports that Gov. Jay Inslee (D) made the decision in the wake of increasing cases, which have been steadily rising since the end of May and beginning of June, per state health data.
Hospitalizations, however, have been declining and hit a rough plateau.
Unlike other states that are currently experiencing record high spikes, namely California and Florida, Washington has yet to return to its previously high case number reported at the onset of the pandemic in March and April. Still, the increase in new cases prompted state officials to issue the public health order.
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“Until a vaccine or cure is developed, this is really going to be our best defense,” Inslee told reporters.
California has recently made face coverings mandatory across the state given rising cases and hospitalizations, and New York City residents must wear masks while in public as well. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) formally advised people to wear masks when in public and in a close proximity to others in early April.
A spokesperson for Inslee told reporters that violators will be subject to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. A more strict mandate was set for Yakima County, which has been hit hard by the virus. The county is notably home to the Yakama Indian Reservation; Native American communities have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Across the state, there are 29,386 confirmed cases, with 4,067 hospitalizations.
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