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Coronavirus

Washington State’s Largest County Says Keep the Masks On

SEATTLE – Despite recent guidance from federal and state officials, the top health official in Washington’s most populous county urged people Thursday to keep wearing face masks in public, indoor settings.

King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin issued a directive strongly recommending that residents age 5 and up wear face coverings whether or not they are vaccinated until 70% or more of the county’s residents 16 and older are fully inoculated. The agency projects the county will reach the threshold in late June.

Some 57% of those residents in King County — home to Seattle — were fully vaccinated on Thursday, according to the directive. The county is home to about 2.26 million people.

The directive applies to public indoor spaces including grocery and retail stores, government buildings and anywhere else members of the public can enter freely — unless a state-approved method of checking vaccination status is implemented. It does not apply to outdoor places.

Last week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings and give up social distancing.

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