Masking Q and A
We appreciate all of you who are wearing masks out there. Whether you’re wearing your mask for health, to cover up the spinach in your teeth from lunch, or so you don’t have to wax your lip, we are glad you’re doing it. You are helping to protect the person who just finished their chemo treatments, the medically fragile kid who finally gets to play at the new playground, and everybody else around you. We also know many people still have a lot of questions about masks, so we wanted to answer some questions we’ve been getting lately.
Q. Why do the mask recommendations keep changing?
It can be frustrating to have rules change, however, in the case of the pandemic our knowledge has increased and the virus itself has physically changed. In the beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t know if masks would be very effective. Now many studies have increased our knowledge of how effective they are. We also thought we would be able to remove our masks once we were vaccinated, but in this case the virus changed and became more transmissible. Since we now know masks are effective, we know it’s an easy choice we can make to protect those around us.
Q. What are Washington’s rules for wearing masks now?
To summarize, anyone older than two must wear a face covering indoors in public places and an outdoor event with over 500 people attending. There are some exceptions, for instance if someone is communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing and removing the mask is necessary for communication, while working alone indoors, or while eating. We’d also like to note that the Washington State Department of Health strongly recommends people wear a mask at any crowded outdoor setting where it is difficult to maintain physical distance between people outside your household. If you really want the specifics, you can view the order of the secretary of health.
Q. If a person is vaccinated why should they be concerned about wearing a mask or people around them wearing a mask.
Infections happen in a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, especially with the Delta variant. The infections tend to be mild, but you could still spread the virus. You may have had a mild case, but if you spread it to somebody else, especially somebody who is not fully vaccinated, they could become seriously ill.
Q. Why do kids have to wear masks in schools when they have lower risk from COVID?
The simple answer is we want the kids and staff to be safe and to be able to have in-person learning. We know masks help with this by lowering transmission, and lower transmission means they will not have to quarantine or switch to different learning formats. In Washington, the mandate for masks in schools was made on a state level so schools are required to follow this mandate. According to a poll by KFF, the majority of parents in the U.S. are in favor of requiring masks for unvaccinated students and staff in schools.