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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Sanchez

Grant County Health District ending mask mandate “effective immediately”

- Moses Lake, WA

The Grant County Health District is ending the county mask mandate “effective immediately” Thursday July 1st stating “Grant County Health Officer, Dr. Alexander Brzezny, is ending the masking mandate in Grant County effective immediately.” The health district says the county will now follow the national CDC and state DOH guidelines. The decision came from County Health Officer Dr. Alexander Brzezny after looking at the trend of COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalization rates, and health care capacity throughout Grant County.

In a press release the health district said “The pandemic is not over, however Grant County Health District encourages vaccinations as the most reliable method of suppressing and eventually controlling COVID-19 in our communities. Masking is still appropriate in many situations.”

Grant County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state with only 36% of the population 12+ being fully vaccinated and only 40% being partially vaccinated (only receiving one dose of the two).

Washington State ranks 12th in the nation just below California for vaccination rates with 67% of those 12+ being fully vaccinated and 74% being partially vaccinated. As for COVID Cases and infections in Grant County, the county has an average daily case county of 8.9 averaging to 9.1 per 100,000 people pushing the curve down 33% with the county labeled a high risk for those who are unvaccinated. A county is at a moderate risk for unvaccinated people if it reported an average daily rate of about 2 cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks.

The CDC states that individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can resume activities they did prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required to do so by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations. However those who are not fully vaccinated need to continue wearing a face mask in public indoor settings even as things start to go back to normal gradually.

In general, people are considered fully vaccinated: • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, OR • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. Those not meeting these requirements, are NOT considered fully vaccinated, regardless of age. Those with conditions or taking medications that weaken the immune system may not be fully protected even after being fully vaccinated. Taking all precautions, including masking, should be discussed with a healthcare provider. The settings in which all people, including those fully vaccinated, are required to wear masks include: • Childcare facilities, camps, K-12 schools, and other youth settings where children are present or expected to be present; • Healthcare settings, in accordance with CDC health care infection prevention and control recommendations; • Correctional facilities in areas where incarcerated individuals are present or expected to be present; • Homeless shelters in areas where individuals being served are present or expected to be present; • Public transportation and transportation hubs, including airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations. Some exceptions to the face covering requirement include: • People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, except as listed above • When outdoors (unvaccinated people in crowded places are encouraged to wear a mask); • When engaged in outdoor training or competition; and • When anyone in a group is deaf or hard of hearing and not wearing a face covering is essential for communication. For a full list of exemptions to the face covering requirement, refer to Order 20-03.3: Current guidance on masking in businesses remains unchanged: • Fully vaccinated employees do not have to wear a mask, unless their employer requires it; • Before ending masking, employers must confirm workers are fully vaccinated; • Regardless of vaccination status, masks are still required in health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, schools, childcare centers or day camps; • Unvaccinated individuals are still required to wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces and; • Businesses may choose to require masking, so you should keep a mask handy for places where they are required. • Further information about masking in the workplace can be found here.

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