Effective April 3, the Washington State Department of Health will end the required universal masking in healthcare facilities for people age 5 and older.

With COVID-19, RSV, and influenza disease rates and hospitalizations continuing to decline since the end of last year, the end of universal masking requirements was announced today by the state of Oregon, and Washington state is following suit.

Washington State Secretary of Health, Dr. Umair A. Shah said, “Masks have been – and will continue to be – an important tool, along with vaccinations, to keep people healthy and safe,” adding that “We are thankful for our health and long-term care providers, staff members, patients, and all Washingtonians, for following the important public health measures put in place during the pandemic to protect one another.”

However, the Washington DOH continues to recommend masks for patients, healthcare providers, and visitors in healthcare settings. Also, licensed healthcare facilities are still required to have infection prevention policies and programs consistent with CDC guidance.

Additionally, under the state Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA) rules, several key worker protections remain in place until the federal pandemic response declaration ends May 11.

The current Secretary of Health Mask Order will remain in place until 11:59pm on April 2. Local or tribal governments, facilities, and providers may choose to continue to require masks in these or other settings.

DOH will also continue to issue COVID prevention guidance for the public, and key sectors. These sectors will include the use of masks, vaccines, ventilation, and other preventive measures to inform individuals, families, communities, and health leaders on how to stay safe from COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses.

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Gallery Credit: Tammie Toren

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