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caption: A sign asking customers to keep their masks on, even if they have been vaccinated, at the front door of Third Place Books in Seattle's Seward Park neighborhood.
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A sign asking customers to keep their masks on, even if they have been vaccinated, at the front door of Third Place Books in Seattle's Seward Park neighborhood.
Credit: Dyer Oxley / KUOW

King County health official recommends going back to masking up indoors

King County's health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin is recommending that all people keep masking up in indoor public places to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The recommendation comes three weeks after King County dropped its masking directive, after 70% of all residents age 16 and older became fully vaccinated.

Since then, King County has followed Washington state's masking guidelines, which recommends wearing a mask in indoor settings for those who are not fully vaccinated. Even if you are fully vaccinated, masks are still required in places like hospitals, public transit, and schools.

As Covid cases tick upwards in King County due to the Delta variant, Duchin is recommending that people keep masking up in indoor public places where it's not possible to verify everyone's vaccination status, like grocery stores, theaters and restaurants. Duchin added that masking up is still needed to protect those who are still ineligible for the coronavirus vaccine: children and the immunocompromised.

"Masking is easy. It doesn’t cost anything. We’re not restricting people’s activities or ability to do what they want to do. We’re only giving them advice on how to do so more safely. And this whole idea of layered protection is critically important," Duchin said.

Duchin added that he believes vaccinated people are still well protected from serious illness, but maintaining a culture of masking could help protect everyone.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to clarify that the masking recommendation includes public spaces where it's not possible to verify an individual's vaccination status.