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King County expects to lift indoor mask mandate March 21 based on new CDC guidance

Health officials said if COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to fall, King County will lift its indoor mask mandate at the same time as the state.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — King County health officials confirmed they will lift the indoor mask mandate on March 21 if COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to fall following new guidance from the CDC. 

King County is now considered to be at a "low COVID-19 community level" based on the CDC's new measurements of COVID-19 activity. The new guidelines take into account hospital bed utilization, hospital admissions and total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. 

"This is a reflection of our recent falling hospitalization and case numbers after the Omicron surge, and a reflection of the actions King County residents have taken to protect themselves and others, most importantly through vaccination," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

RELATED: Here's what new CDC guidance on face masks means for Washington state

Prevention recommendations for counties with low COVID-19 community levels do not include masking up indoors, only staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations and getting tested if symptoms occur. 

Dr. Duchin warned that although King County is at a low COVID-19 community level, that "does not mean COVID is over." 

"A layered approach to prevention remains important, particularly to help protect those at higher risk of severe illness," Duchin said. "This means staying up to date on vaccination and boosters, improving indoor air quality through ventilation and filtration, and, for high-risk persons especially, masking and limiting time in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces."

Although the new guidance eases recommended mask guidelines for more than 70% of Americans, Washington's mask mandate will remain in place until March 21, when the state is projected to hit a hospital admission goal of 5 per 100,000 residents. 

RELATED: CDC eases mask guidelines for more than 70% of Americans

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