Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Thursday, Sept. 8, that all remaining COVID-19 emergency proclamations and the COVID-19 state of emergency will end by Oct. 31.
But with emergency orders ending, public health leaders continue to emphasize the importance of vaccines and masks in keeping communities safe.
Washington had the fifth-lowest death rate from COVID-19 in the nation, per CDC data.
In his announcement, the governor reiterated the importance of vaccinations and booster shots. COVID-19 remains a threat, killing 300 Americans every day and more than 10 people a day in Washington state.
“We’ve come a long way the past two years in developing the tools that allow us to adapt and live with COVID-19,” Inslee said. “Ending this order does not mean we take it less seriously or will lose focus on how this virus has changed the way we live. We will continue our commitments to the public’s well-being, but simply through different tools that are now more appropriate for the era we’ve entered.”
The statewide face covering order issued by the state Department of Health will remain in place for health care and long-term care settings, as well as correctional facilities, under certain circumstances, after the state of emergency ends. The governor is also looking at options to ensure there are protections for workers who choose to wear a mask in their workplace.
Vaccination requirements for health care and education workers will end, but employers will continue to be able to require them if they choose. Inslee has already announced that COVID-19 vaccination will remain a condition of employment for most Washington state agencies.
Washington was the first state in the U.S. with a reported case of COVID-19. Inslee was swift to enact protective measures that have since resulted in one of the lowest per capita death rates in the nation.
If the rest of the nation had the same death rate as Washington, some 433,000 lives would have been saved.