Masks required at large outdoor events in King County
As COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased in recent months, Seattle & King County Public Health has ordered a new mask mandate to stave off the highly contagious delta variant, requiring masks for people age 5 and older, regardless of vaccination status, at outdoor events with 500 or more attendees.
King County health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin announced the order Sept. 2, which took effect Sept. 7. Duchin said in the statement that face coverings must be worn in crowded outdoor settings where there is a decreased possibility for social distancing between people who live in different households.
According to that statement, 67% of King County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, meaning roughly 750,000 county residents are unvaccinated.
Washington health officials are seeing trends toward higher rates of COVID-19 among teens and young and middle-aged adults in accordance with vaccine rates. “The (vaccine) completion rate is significantly lower in younger age groups (64% in 12-19 years old, 64% in 20-29 years old; 73% in 30-39 years old populations), and among Black (63%) and Hispanic (64%) community members and in certain neighborhoods, particularly in South King County and Seattle,” Duchin wrote.
Duchin said the county’s transmission increase is due to a combination of factors: the more contagious delta variant, the phasing out of restrictions through the Washington Roadmap to Recovery and Washingtonians having more opportunities to participate in activities like concerts, sporting events and fairs.
Many Seattle sporting arenas already had masking protocols, such as Lumen Field, where mask-wearing was required at all times. The University of Washington was strongly recommending mask-wearing at its Husky Stadium.
At the order of health officials, other counties are enforcing similar mandates. Pierce County is requiring masks at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, which runs Sept. 3-26.
Charter Amendment 29 is dead
The group behind pro-sweep Charter Amendment 29 filed an emergency motion Aug. 31 to stay a superior court ruling that the proposed amendment to the city of Seattle charter was unlawful. The Court of Appeals denied the motion without explanation, saying, “We have considered Compassion Seattle’s motion and have determined that it should be denied.”
CA 29 will be excluded from the upcoming election, but some Seattleites speculate that the initiative’s 64,000 signatories will support candidates who were in favor of it.
“Today’s rejection of our emergency appeal motion means that Seattle voters must change who is in charge if they want a change to the city’s failed approach to addressing the homelessness crisis,” Compassion Seattle said on its website Sept. 3.
Samira George covers real people living real lives in the Puget Sound. Follow her on Twitter @samirakgeorge.
Read more of the Sept. 8-14, 2021 issue.