Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks as he gives his annual State of the State address on Jan. 11, at the Capitol in Olympia. (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks as he gives his annual State of the State address on Jan. 11, at the Capitol in Olympia. (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren)

Washington’s COVID-19 state of emergency to end Oct. 31

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday the order will end nearly three years after he first issued it.

By Rachel La Corte / Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that the state of emergency sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic will end Oct. 31, nearly three years after the Democratic governor first issued the order.

A vast majority of the 85 orders issued – including most mask requirements, restrictions on commerce and restaurants – had already been previously lifted. An additional 13 health care related orders are set to end Oct. 27, including one that offered flexibility for locations pharmacies could store vaccines. Ten remaining orders, including the underlying emergency order and vaccination requirements for health care and education workers, will remain in place until the emergency order is lifted Oct. 31.

Inslee noted that employers can continue to require vaccination as a condition of employment if they choose, and Inslee had previously announced such requirements would remain an employment requirement for most state agencies.

Masking requirements will remain in place at health care and long-term care settings after the state of emergency ends, under an order that was updated by the state Department of Health last month. That order also will continue to require masking at Correctional and jail facilities when the county in which the facility is located has a medium or high level of COVID-19 transmission.

The governor’s office said that Inslee is also looking to ensure there are protections for workers who choose to wear a mask in their workplace.

Inslee issued the state of emergency Feb. 29, 2020, after cases started to climb and a death in the state was the first reported COVID-10 death in the U.S. Washington is one of just a handful of states, including California and Texas, to still have active orders in place. Last month, North Carolina’s governor signed an order ending the state of emergency there.

Republicans, the minority party in both the state House and Senate, had decried the length of time Inslee held on to the broad powers provided under state law, and pushed this year to limit the amount of time a declaration could stay in place without legislative approval. A Senate measure, sponsored by a Democrat, was introduced during the 60-day legislative session earlier this year and would have authorized legislative leaders to terminate an emergency after 90 days if the Legislature is not in session. Republicans argued it was a watered-down bill that wouldn’t have done anything and it died in the House.

There have been more than 14,100 deaths since the start of the pandemic, and nearly 1.8 million cases of COVID-19 as of this week.

More than 76% of the Washington population age 6 months and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, and nearly 70% is fully vaccinated. About 58% of those age 5 and older who are eligible for boosters have received one, according to the Department of Health.

Cases and hospitalizations have declined significantly since a major omicron-fueled peak in January. But health officials are still urging people to get the new COVID-19 booster that was recently endorsed by the CDC. The new booster is a bivalent vaccine, half the original vaccine and half protection against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron versions now causing nearly all COVID-19 infections.

Talk to us

More in Local News

King County map logo
Tribal members dance to start an assemble on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day Friday evening at Tulalip Gathering Hall in Tulalip, Washington on September 30, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
‘Still here’: Tulalip boarding school descendants celebrate resilience

On Orange Shirt Day, a national day of remembrance, the Tulalip Tribes honored those who suffered due to violent cultural suppression.

Councilmember Megan Dunn, left, stands next to County Executive Dave Somers as he presents his 2023 budget proposal to her, Councilmember Nate Nehring and Councilmember Sam Low. (Snohomish County)
As County Council begins budget talks, here’s how you can weigh in.

Department heads will make their pitches in the next few days. Residents will get a say at a forum and two hearings this month

Representative Rick Larsen speaks at the March For Our Lives rally on Saturday, June 11, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Larsen to hold community meeting in Everett on Monday

The veteran Democratic lawmaker will address recent legislation passed by Congress and other topics.

Everett gets state Auditor’s Office stewardship award

State Auditor Pat McCarthy presented the award during the most recent Everett City Council meeting.

Toggle’s Bottle Shop is closed permanently on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Citing landlord dispute, Toggle’s closes in downtown Everett

The popular taproom shuttered Sunday. “Everett needs a cooperative landlord-tenant relationship in the commercial district,” a co-owner said.

Community Transit chief financial officer Eunjoo Greenhouse
Community Transit hires King County staffer as CFO

Eunjoo Greenhouse is set to join the agency Oct. 24 after years in King County government.

(Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest - US Forest Service)
U.S. 2 reopens east of Index as Bolt Creek wildfire moves north

The highway was blocked off earlier this week as the fire spread.

FILE - Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., speaks during a news conference the vote to codify Roe v. Wade, in this May 5, 2022 file photo on Capitol Hill in Washington. Murray is one of the U.S. Senate's most powerful members and seeking a sixth term. She is being challenged by Tiffany Smiley, a Republican from Pasco, Wash. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Providence continues to face questions about hospital debt collection

The hospital group has pushed back against the notion that Providence “intentionally takes advantage of those who are vulnerable.”

Most Read