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Enforcing vaccination requirements in public venues could be an effective tool for beating back the pandemic. Joining other large metropolitan areas, Seattle and King County will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results for patrons 12 and older, according to county leaders and health officials on Sept 16, 2021. The mandate will take effect on October 25, giving unvaccinated people the opportunity to receive the required vaccine doses — either two Pfizer or Moderna shots or one Johnson & Johnson.
Once it takes effect, only fully vaccinated individuals or those with a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of entry will be allowed to patronize restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, and other indoor entertainment venues. The mandate also applies to outdoor events with 500 or more in attendance, such as sporting venues, fairs, and concerts.
Even though the COVID vaccination/test requirement does not affect outdoor dining, take-out orders, and shopping in places like grocery stores, fully vaccinated individuals will protect others — customers and employees alike.
The health order does not change the county’s masking mandates, requiring everyone at least five years old to mask up while indoors at public places, including grocery stores, shopping malls, and schools. However, officials highly recommend wearing a mask outdoors when social distancing from others is not possible.
COVID-19 Public Health Implications
As the Delta variant rips through America, health officials scramble to stave back the rise in COVID infections. The CDC reversed masking and vaccination rules the agencies established when it appeared the virus had leveled out, which initially prompted most states to reinstitute masking mandates — especially for schools and businesses.
Even though Washington is currently the 9th most vaccinated state in the nation, with 61.81 percent of eligible individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as of September 8, health officials reported almost 600 new infections each day over the last week. These numbers reflect a nearly 500 percent increase compared to rates at this time last year.
In King County, the virus death rates in also on the rise. In the past week, local hospitals reported an average of approximately 3.5 COVID-19 deaths every day. Dr. Jeff Duchin, the county health official, said this is nearly double what the region experienced for much of the pandemic. He added that while new cases plateaued over the past few weeks, the caseload remains at a “very high level.”
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Seattle Times: King County customers of restaurants, theaters, gyms, must show proof of vaccination or negative test; by Paige Cornwell
The Seattle Times: Here’s what you need to know about King County’s vaccine or test requirement; by Amanda Zhou
Q13 FOX: Seattle, King County announce indoor vaccine requirement to fight COVID-19 spread; by Brandi Kruse and Q13 News Staff
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Pame Figueroa’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Kevin FitzGerrell’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License