Fans, most without masks, cheer at Seattle’s Lumen Field during the Aug. 28 preseason game between the Seahawks and the Los Angeles Chargers. That will change Sept. 7, when a mask mandate for large outdoor events begins. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file)

Fans, most without masks, cheer at Seattle’s Lumen Field during the Aug. 28 preseason game between the Seahawks and the Los Angeles Chargers. That will change Sept. 7, when a mask mandate for large outdoor events begins. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file)

King County reinstating outdoor mask mandate due to COVID-19

Facemasks will be required for outdoor events of 500 or more people, vaccinated or not.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases Washington state’s most populous county is reinstating outdoor mask mandates for large events and strongly encouraging people to wear masks in other outdoor settings when they can’t remain six feet apart.

In a statement Thursday Public Health — Seattle & King County said as of Sept. 7 there will be a requirement for facemasks for outdoor events of 500 or more people. The directive applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people over age 5.

The recommendation for outdoor masks when people are unable to socially distance from non-household members is also for people 5 and up regardless of vaccination status.

“With high rates of disease spread, and our health care system straining to keep up, it is time to take additional steps to keep ourselves and our communities safe,” the health agency said.

King County, which includes Seattle, is home to about 2.2 million people. Just last week County Executive Dow Constantine had boasted that King County had one of the highest vaccination rates of any large county in the U.S. As of last week more than 70% of people 12 and older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In its statement the county health agency noted the region’s high vaccination numbers but said “there are still approximately 750,000 people in King County who remain unvaccinated and susceptible to COVID-19.”

That number includes children under 12 who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 shots.

Health officials said vaccinated people were at a “much lower risk” catching and spreading the disease then unvaccinated people, “but the risk is not zero.”

This week state health officials said the delta strain of the COVID-19 virus is filling hospitals at an “alarming” rate and continuing to strain health care workers. There are now about 1,500 COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals.

“Layering multiple prevention strategies, including wearing a well-made and snug-fitting face mask when in crowed outdoor locations, is a necessary precaution at this time to limit COVID-19 spread and preventable cases, hospitalizations, and deaths,” said King County health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin.

As of last week people in Oregon, regardless of vaccination status, were once required to wear masks in most public outdoor settings.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

State Sens, Ron Muzzall, R-Whidbey Island, left, Simon Sefzik, R-Ferndale, center left, Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, center right, and Chris Gildon, R-Puyallup, right, confer on the floor of the Senate during a recess, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
House passes pause to state’s long-term care program and tax

The measure would delay the tax until July 2023, and would refund any premiums collected before then.

In this photo taken May 17, 2017, wine barrels are shown at a vineyard adjacent to the Walla Walla Vintners winery in Walla Walla, Wash. The remote southeastern Washington town of Walla Walla - which used to be best known for sweet onions and as home of the state penitentiary - has now reinvented itself into a center of premium wines and wine tourism. (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios)
More sustainable Washington wines are on the way

Labels will indicate grape growers met guidelines in 9 areas, including water, pest and labor practices.

FILE - Bob Spalding, left, and Don Wilson of The Ventures perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York, March 10, 2008. Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of the instrumental guitar band The Ventures, has died. He was 88. The News Tribune reports Wilson died Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 in Tacoma of natural causes, surrounded by his four children. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Don Wilson, guitarist with The Ventures, dies at 88

The band’s hits included “Walk, Don’t Run” and the theme song for “Hawaii Five-O.”

FILE - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson talks to reporters, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, during a news conference in Seattle. In a 5-4 decision Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, the Washington Supreme Court upheld an $18 million campaign finance penalty against the Consumer Brands Association, formerly known as the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Ferguson sued the group in 2013, alleging that it spent $11 million to oppose a ballot initiative without registering as a political committee or disclosing the source of the money. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington justices uphold $18M fine in GMO-labeling case

Big grocers funneled dark money into a campaign against genetically modified labels on food packaging.

Section of a tsunami high ground map. (Island County)
Tsunami warning fizzled, but future threat to Whidbey is real

State and county officials have long warned about the possibility of a tsunami striking the island.

A sign bearing the corporate logo hangs in the window of a Starbucks open only to take-away customers in this photograph taken Monday, April 26, 2021, in southeast Denver.  Starbucks is no longer requiring its U.S. workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, reversing a policy it announced earlier this month. The Seattle coffee giant says, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022,  it's responding to last week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Starbucks nixes vaccine mandate after Supreme Court ruling

The move reverses a policy the coffee company announced earlier this month.

Marianne Edain and Steve Erickson of WEAN at their South Whidbey home in 2019. (Laura Guido / South Whidbey Record, file)
Whidbey environment group isn’t suing county for first time in 25 years

The impact WEAN founders have had on environmental policy in Island County is extensive.

Lawsuit: Washington’s new majority Latino district is a ‘facade’

The legal action targets state Legislative District 15 in Yakima.

FILE - Trees scorched by the Caldor Fire smolder in the Eldorado National Forest, Calif., Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. The Biden administration wants to thin more forests and use prescribed burns to reduce catastrophic wildfires as climate changes makes blazes more intense. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
US plans $50B wildfire fight where forests meet suburbia

Blazes have wiped out communities in California, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon and Washington state.

Skiers make their way uphill under idle lift chairs at the Summit at Snoqualmie Ski Area as fresh snow falls, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Snoqualmie Pass, Wash. Several inches of snow fell Wednesday, and the area shown was scheduled to open to skiers and begin lift operation later in the day. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Snoqualmie ski resort cuts some operations after losing power

For Monday skiing, the resort’s website said they have “less than a partial supply of energy.”

FILE - In this April 15, 2019, file photo, a vendor makes change for a marijuana customer at a cannabis marketplace in Los Angeles. An unwelcome trend is emerging in California, as the nation's most populous state enters its fifth year of broad legal marijuana sales. Industry experts say a growing number of license holders are secretly operating in the illegal market — working both sides of the economy to make ends meet. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
In California pot market, a hazy line between legal and not

Industry insiders say the practice of working simultaneously in the legal and illicit markets is a financial reality.

Dog rescued from collapsed house 6 days after landslide

The black Labrador named Sammy was alert and wagging her tail as Seattle firefighters pulled her from the rubble.