People attending outdoor events with 500 or more in attendance are required to wear a mask whether they are vaccinated or not
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest mandate went into effect today (Mon., Sept. 13). The governor’s mask mandate will require that people attending outdoor events with 500 or more in attendance wear a mask even if they have been vaccinated.
Inslee stated that his new outdoor mask requirement was necessary due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Washington over the past two months. The recent surge in cases has been fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant.
As of Sept. 2, Clark County has had 32,455 COVID-19 cases, with 20 percent of those cases in the 20-29 age group, followed by the 30-39 and then the 40-49 age groups. The Clark County Public Health (CCPH) department reports 58.2 percent of people age 12 and older are fully vaccinated. In Washington, the Department of Health reports that an estimated 67 percent of residents 12 and up are fully vaccinated.
As of Sept. 1, the state Department of Health reported an average of 3,300 new cases a day, compared to about 350 new cases per day at the end of June. Hospitalizations around the state have grown to about three per day per 100,000 residents at the end of June to about 19 per day at the end of August.
Health officials have suggested the “fifth wave’’ of COVID-19 cases peaked in early September but they remain cautious that another surge could follow.
On Aug. 18, Inslee announced an indoor mask mandate in the state for individuals five years and older. That same day Inslee expanded his previous vaccine mandate to include employees working in childcare, early learning, K-12 and higher education settings. Inslee had previously ordered most state employees and health care workers to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.
Inslee’s newest mask mandate will apply to events such as fairs, concerts and sporting events.
High school sporting events
With the new, expanded mask mandate now in effect, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) issued a reminder that masks are required at any event with 500 or more attendees.
To calculate the 500, schools should include fans, event staff, bands and anyone else who may occupy seating areas. Coaches, players, officials and other personnel on the field, along with cheer/dance/drill squads on the sidelines are not counted.
WIAA officials encourage schools to be proactive in adhering to these guidelines with facility signage, in-game public address reads, etc. that highlight the masking expectations. They also suggested officials add a summary of the masking guidelines to school and athletic websites as a resource for fans and visiting fans who may attend events at school facilities.
The Governor’s Office and State Department of Health will allow extracurricular activities to continue so long as they trust that member schools will enforce the mandate at each and every event.
“We have all done a lot of work over the last 18 months to get sports and activities back up and running and we need to do everything in our power to make sure these participation opportunities continue to be available for our students,’’ read a statement from the WIAA Monday.