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Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman on Tuesday announced a statewide mandatory face-covering order that took effect Friday.

The order comes after last Saturday’s announcement of a mandatory mask proclamation for Yakima County, which also took effect this week. The order was in response to reports of increasing COVID-19 case counts and a potential overwhelming of the county’s health care system. 

After subsequent reports of cases increasing in additional counties, the governor and Wiesman chose to extend the face covering requirement to include the entire state of Washington.

“As necessary economic activity increases and more people are out in their communities, it is imperative that we adopt further measures to protect all of us,” Inslee said during a press conference Tuesday. “Until a vaccine or cure is developed, this is going to be one of our best defenses.” 

The governor issued a separate proclamation specific to businesses in Yakima County that requires business owners not to do in-store business with customers who aren’t wearing face coverings.

Starting Friday, every Washingtonian must wear a facial covering when in a public space, as mandated by the public health order signed by Wiesman. This includes indoor spaces as well as outdoor public spaces where individuals cannot maintain social distancing.

“The science is clear that when we use face coverings, we limit the spread of droplets being passed on to others when we talk, cough or sneeze. While some of us are wearing face coverings in public, we must increase usage to best control the virus. Washington’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if, together, we act safely and follow health recommendations,” Wiesman said.

Read the full story on the governor’s Medium page