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Snohomish County issues indoor mask directive starting Aug. 12

Citing a rise in COVID-19 cases over the past six weeks, the county's health officer issued a directive asking everyone to wear a mask within many indoor spaces.

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — Effective Thursday, Aug. 12, everyone 5 or older in Snohomish County will be asked to wear a face-covering within indoor public spaces.

County Health Officer Chris Spitters issued a directive Tuesday, citing a rise in COVID-19 cases since July 1. 

The directive does not apply to non-public spaces, such as offices and other places with limited access. 

"I strongly urge all people in Snohomish County to voluntarily comply with this directive, and likewise direct all businesses that are open to the public, including grocery and other retail establishments, to continue implementing policies and practices to ensure that their customers and employees wear face masks in order to protect the health of their customers, workers, and the community," Spitters wrote in his directive. 

The directive remains in effect until the Snohomish Health District confirms COVID-19 rates decline to low levels of transmission or is otherwise rescinded. 

There will be no fines or penalties for not honoring the directive.

There has been a 365% increase in weekly reported cases in Snohomish County over the past six weeks, according to the health district. The 14-day case rate is 279 per 100,000 residents, above the threshold for what is considered "high transmission" as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Approximately 54% of Snohomish County's population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the health district.

Collectively, Snohomish County's hospital intensive care units are operating at or above 90% maximum capacity with "little additional reserve to absorb a greater surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations.