ARLINGTON — For one Snohomish County community, it is one small but ambitious step to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The City of Arlington is preparing to mail two free face masks to every household within its boundaries.
That’s roughly 7,840 homes, including apartments and other multi-family units. The masks are expected to be sent Tuesday or Wednesday.
There is a time factor to the mailings. Snohomish County is anticipating opening up more businesses soon as some state-imposed COVID-19 safety restrictions are eased.
Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert said she wants to see those businesses remain open and prosper. Taking precautions, such as wearing a mask, should help, she said.
Both county and state leaders are considering orders for all residents to wear face coverings in public, not just workers.
Last week, Thurston County’s top medical officer issued a mandatory mask order.
Regardless of whether masks are ordered or strongly recommended, they just make sense, Tolbert said.
“I wear one. My 83-year-old mother lives in the community,” she said. “I will do everything I can to protect her.”
The cost of buying and mailing the masks will be somewhere around $25,000 to $30,000, according to city estimates. Tolbert said none of the money comes from local taxes. It’s federal CARES Act funding earmarked for COVID-19-related expenses.
Tolbert said she understands some people will refuse to wear masks. She said she hopes they will at least consider giving them to a neighbor or family member who will.
She sees the masks as an important tool in reopening local businesses. A recent Arlington Chamber of Commerce survey showed the greatest concern among local businesses is consumer confidence. Some merchants worry customers won’t come to shop if they don’t feel safe.
As of late last week, there had been 128 coronavirus cases in Arlington and one death.
The number of new cases has been on a steady decline. Tolbert hopes the masks will help maintain that trend amid loosened requirements and greater social interaction.
“I just want to gently encourage people to have healthy habits,” she said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.