King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Public Health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin are scheduled to hold “a virtual press conference” Monday afternoon to discuss a new directive on face coverings.
The new directive requires King County residents to wear “a cloth face covering in indoor public spaces or confined spaces where it could be difficult to maintain six feet of physical distancing,” according to materials being prepared to inform the public about the change.
UPDATE: “King County residents are directed to wear face coverings in most public settings” as of May 18th, the announcement reads.
The announcement says examples of where the coverings will be required include “stores, restaurants, farmers markets, banks, and public transportation.”
“Deaf hard-of-hearing and other individuals who rely on face and mouth movements to communicate are not required to comply with this directive,” the county says.
The directive does not call for face masks “when you are outside walking, exercising, or otherwise outdoors if you are able to regularly stay 6 feet away from other people who do not live with you.”
UPDATE: The City of Seattle will provide masks at no cost to “to vulnerable communities, including people experiencing homelessness, low-income older adults, and food bank staff” —
Following Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Local Health Directive, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced that the City of Seattle will provide over 45,000 free cloth face coverings to vulnerable communities, including people experiencing homelessness, low-income older adults, and food bank staff. As one of the region’s largest employers, the City will also provide cloth face coverings for every City of Seattle employee. Effective May 18, King County residents must wear cloth face coverings in indoor public settings, on King County Metro buses, and in outdoor settings where physical distancing could be difficult, such as farmers markets. Residents must continue to practice good hygiene and continue physical distancing in addition to wearing cloth face coverings.
Previously, officials here have recommended the coverings but not required them. In addition to now providing clear guidance about the masks for people as they go about their errands and trips outside the home, the rules will also help businesses set policies for their customers as venues reopen under loosened COVID-19 restrictions.
UPDATE: 21st Ave’s Girlie Press has free “No mask No entry” posters for local businesses while supplies last:
The county has said past directives “may be subject to enforcement actions, which could include legal actions.” Duchin’s past “Local Health Officer Directive” rules have included rules around isolation and quarantine, and limits on social gatherings.
After initial mixed messages as hospitals and health workers struggled with low supplies of “personal protective equipment,” in April the CDC finally issued its recommendations on the “use of cloth face coverings” to slow the spread of COVID-19 and sightings of the face coverings around the Hill began to increase as part of efforts to protect others from possible infection.
Experts changed course on the recommendations amid increased evidence of how asymptomatic people spread the virus. Coverings “may protect others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the mask wearer.”
Masks with holes or vents won’t help and nothing is a substitute for adequate distancing.
If you need a new mask, there are a few local options. Splash Fabric is an outgrowth of the neighborhood Imp Wear business that has ramped up its face mask production and offers online ordering at splashfabric.com:
Whether you’re looking for a sturdy but stylish tote for your next trip, a stain-proof tablecloth for your weekend BBQs or a water-proof apron for your pottery class, we’ve got you covered. Everything we make is built to last while also adding color to your life. And because we design our fabric ourselves, our pieces are one-of-a-kind.
A.Oei Studio offers Capitol Hill designed “Buenos Aires” style face masks at aoei-studio.com.
Other Capitol Hill retailers have also started stocking masks.
For anybody in a DIY mood, the CDC has also posted instructions on how to create your own coverings:
Here are a few more details on masks and COVID-19 from Washington Health (PDF):
Do cloth face coverings prevent the spread of COVID-19? There is limited evidence to suggest that use of cloth face coverings helps reduce disease transmission. However, they can reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has COVID-19 but feels well. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing, washing your hands, and staying home when you are ill, but they may be helpful when combined with these measures.
When should I wear a cloth face covering? You may choose to wear a cloth face covering when you are in public for an essential activity, such as shopping at the grocery store. Wearing a cloth face covering does not eliminate the need for other preventive measures, such as washing hands and social distancing.
How should I care for a cloth face covering? Wash your cloth face covering frequently, ideally after each use, or at least daily. Masks should be washed with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. If you must re-wear your cloth face covering before washing, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face. Discard cloth face coverings that: • No longer cover the nose and mouth • Have stretched out or damaged ties or straps • Cannot stay on your face • Have holes or tears in the fabric
The new rules come as the use of face masks has emerged as a political issue with President Trump and his administration including Vice President Mike Pence making public appearances without coverings as the White House pushes for a rapid reopening of state economies. In Washington where the push to reopen has spilled into protests and rallies against the state’s phased approach to loosening restrictions, state officials say there is concern transmission rate could be “no longer falling and may be rising again.”
UPDATE: Over the weekend, King County tallied its 500th death and 7,000th COVID-19 case. Meanwhile, a new death was reported in the ZIP codes across Capitol Hill and the Central District bringing that area’s total to six during the outbreak.
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