Face coverings will be mandatory statewide in Washington starting this Friday, according to an announcement from Gov. Jay Inslee.
COVID-19 infections are rising statewide, especially in Eastern Washington. Inslee compared the hotspot in Yakima—which has almost as many cases as the state of Oregon and is running out of hospital beds for patients—to New York City and Italy at the beginning of the pandemic. The only way to combat that, since social distancing gets harder as the economy opens back up, is to make everyone wear masks.
It's now a legal requirement to mask up in indoor public places and outside where you can't maintain six feet of social distance. Not wearing a mask is punishable by a misdemeanor. In Yakima, it will be stricter. Businesses will have to ensure that all of their customers wear masks or they will be liable to a fine or, in the most extreme case, losing their business license. However, Inslee is hoping that people will simply comply and enforcement won't have to happen.
"The best way to get someone to wear a mask is to wear a mask yourself," Inslee said. Maybe peer pressure will save lives.
Anyone with a medical condition who can't wear a mask will not be legally required to wear one. Additionally, only children five years old and up will have to wear them. Secretary of Health John Wiesman advised strongly against putting masks on children two years old or younger.
If you're heated about having to wear a mask since your immune system is made of steel or you do a lot of CrossFit and are thus impermeable, it's not about you. Inslee made it clear that wearing a mask is to protect other people, not just yourself.
Look at this graphic every time you grumble about masking up: