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Updates from Public Health Seattle & King County 

King County’s Local Mask Directive

We are halfway through the month of June and Washington state and King County are approaching major milestones. For King County, 70% of residents age 16 and older have now completed their vaccine series and will reach full immunity in two weeks. For Washington, the state is quickly approaching full reopening on or before June 30.

These are both momentous milestones worthy of celebration. However, we’re not done.  There are many people who remain unvaccinated  for numerous reasons, including but not limited to misinformation about vaccine safety, concerns about taking time off from work, barriers such as childcare and transportation, age eligibility for those under 12 years, and long-standing, understandable mistrust of health care systems and government after continuous discrimination, racism, and harmful experiences towards communities of color.

Public Health will continue to work with partners to build trust and confidence and remove barriers to getting vaccinated. Evidence shows that the vaccines are safe and highly effective at eliminating or dramatically reducing the impact of COVID-19. We continue to depend on one another for community protection, and to help protect those who cannot be vaccinated. The more people we can vaccinate, the safer we will all be.

King County Vaccine Update

On June 15, King County reached a milestone: 70% of King County residents age 16 and older have completed their vaccine series, which means the County is set to reach 70% fully vaccinated on June 29. People are considered fully immunized two weeks after their second shot of Pfizer/Moderna, or in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, two weeks after their first shot.

The milestone was achieved through a strategy that focuses first and foremost on the hardest hit areas of our region, using a variety of approaches to meet people where they are. This has included high-volume vaccination sites in every major area of the region for quick and easy access; community-focused events at faith-based and community and civic organizations as important access points for people including those with disabilities, low-income families, immigrants, and high-risk critical workers; traveling pop-ups in parks, schools, and places of employment; mobile vaccinations for those homebound or experiencing homelessness; and pharmacy and clinic vaccination locations.

King County’s vaccination rates vary by community, age, and race/ethnicity and Public Health is working to ensure as many people are protected as possible with the goal of a minimum of 70% fully vaccinated across all racial/ethnic groups, eligible ages, and geographies. The County will continue to work with partners to close the gaps in vaccination by providing ongoing information about the vaccine, encouraging employers to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated and recover, and ensuring access points do not require appointments and have extended hours.

King County’s Local Mask Directive

Last month, Dr. Jeff Duchin issued a local mask directive for King County, strongly urging all residents, fully vaccinated or not, to wear face masks in public, indoor settings. With Tuesday’s announcement that 70% of the County’s residents 16 and older have completed their vaccine series, the local mask directive will be lifted on June 29. The county mask directive is available on the masks page in English and other languages. Now available in Dari, Farsi, Hindi, Khmer, Lao, Oromo, Punjabi, Russian, Samoan, and Thai.  Hmong and Tigrinya will be uploaded online soon.

Once this directive ends, the Washington state mask guidance will still be in effect in King County. This also means that in settings such as schools, shelters, and health care facilities, along with public transportation, all individuals regardless of vaccination status must continue to wear masks. Businesses have the option of requiring customers to wear face masks.

 People who are unvaccinated remain at very high risk for getting COVID-19 and spreading the infection to others. And masks are an effective way to limit the spread of coronavirus, which spreads primarily through the air. For these reasons, unvaccinated people need to follow Washington state guidance and continue wearing masks indoors when around other people who are unvaccinated. This remains in effect even after the King County mask directive ends. Unvaccinated individuals should also take other precautions, including limiting indoor activities with unvaccinated people, making sure there’s good indoor air ventilation, and physical distancing.

Washington’s Full Reopening

Washington state will fully reopen on June 30, or sooner if Washington reaches the vaccination goal of 70% of individuals 16 years and older getting their first dose of vaccine. This reopening refers to the economic reopening and when Washington will move beyond the Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery. All industry sectors previously covered by this or the Safe Start plan may return to usual operations and capacity, except for large, indoor events (more than 10,000 participants simultaneously located in an indoors enclosed space).

This reopening is independent from the expiration of the King County indoor mask Directive. Once the Directive expires on June 29, the State Health Order on face coverings and the Department of Labor & Industries mask guidance will remain in effect. Unless other guidance or updates are announced by the Governor or the Department of Health, the following guidance will be in effect after reopening:

  • People who are unvaccinated are required to wear masks in all indoor public spaces
  • Employees who are fully vaccinated can work without masks; if employers allow this, they are required by L&I to verify proof of vaccination. Only fully vaccinated people can work without masks.
  • Everyone will be required to wear masks in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, schools, childcare settings, and on public transportation.

At this time there is no further state or county guidance on masking requirements for businesses engaging directly with the public, but the state and federal guidance has reinforced the right of organizations and businesses to require masks. 

Variants Update

Variants of COVID-19 continue to cause concern locally and across the country. On June 15, the CDC announced it is naming the Delta variant of coronavirus (B.1.617.2) a variant of concern in the United States, joining five other strains previously classified. This variant has demonstrated increased transmissibility. Evidence suggests that the Delta variant is 25 – 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), which itself is about 50% more transmissible than the strains that were circulating earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Alpha variant is among the most common strain in the U.S.)

According to the CDC, in late May the Delta variant made up about 3% of all U.S. cases, now makes up about 10% of new COVID-19 cases. The variant is growing in prevalence locally, currently accounting for about 7% of cases in King County. The Delta variant has become the most common strain in India in recent months and makes up more than 90% of new cases in the United Kingdom. It will likely become the dominant strain in the United States.

COVID-19 vaccines offer a high level of protection against the Delta variant for those fully vaccinated. Data from a recent U.K. study suggests that the Pfizer vaccine is about 88% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 two weeks after the second dose, but only 33% effective after one dose. The Moderna vaccine is expected to have similar efficacy rates. Researchers continue to study the efficacy of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the Delta variant, and it is expected to also offer significant protection.

It is critical to complete both doses of a two-dose vaccines series to get the full benefit from the vaccine.

The biggest danger from the Delta variant is to people who are not vaccinated. Larger outbreaks of the Delta variant have been seen in communities where vaccination rates are low. Reaching a high vaccination rate in King County across geographies, ages, races, and ethnicities will help to prevent large outbreaks of the Delta variant and help to prevent other dangerous variants from developing and spreading.

Right now, there is no anticipated change to King County’s reopening plans due to the possible increasing spread of the Delta variant. However, if the Delta variant – or other variants of concern – causes COVID-19 cases to rise significantly and creates a public health concern in the County, reopening plans may be updated as necessary to help protect our community from the virus.

Getting fully vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your community from the Delta variant and other strains of the coronavirus, for those who are able to get a vaccine.

Have a great weekend and stay safe!


Diane Agasid Bondoc, REHS/RS

Workplace Prevention Task Force

Community Mitigation and Recovery – COVID-19 Response

Public Health – Seattle & King County

Direct phone: (206) 263-2157 | Eastgate mainline:  (206) 477-8050

Email: diane.agasid@kingcounty.gov






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