King County mask mandate ends

King County has ended its mask mandate a day before Washington fully reopens its economy for the first time since the pandemic began. 

The county is now in line with the state's mask guidance, which says that vaccinated people don't need to wear a mask in most situations. Unvaccinated people should continue to wear masks, and vaccinated people may choose to continue wearing masks in public settings. 

King County issued its own mask directive on May 20 after the CDC and Washington state loosened masking guidelines. 

"Our community is now more protected than in May," health officials said. "Since the King County Mask Directive was issued, an additional 209,733 people age 16 and older completed their vaccine series, and another 114,970 first doses were administered to people of all ages. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations also decreased substantially with the case rate dropping 69%."

Health officials said 70 percent of King County residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

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"We are in a much better place today, but the course of the COVID-19 outbreak remains unpredictable and we continue to depend on one another for community protection, including through vaccination as well as mask wearing. People who are unvaccinated are at increased risk for COVID-19 along with people who do not respond to vaccine because they are immunocompromised due to underlying medical conditions. The best protection for both individuals and the community as a whole will be through more of us continuing to be vaccinated."

Private businesses may still require masks, so take one with you when you go out. Masks could also be mandated again if COVID numbers rise. 

"I feel good. I feel really positive about the future now and we made it through some tough times, but I think we’re just going to keep going up and surviving and it’s going to be great," said Scott Cory, owner of Peyrassol Café in Renton.

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