The Yakima Health District has rescinded its mask order, but the state’s mandate still applies to Yakima County.
Interim Health Officer Dr. Larry Jecha rescinded the local order last week when Gov. Jay Inslee issued an updated state mandate lifting the mask requirement for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The state’s May 21 proclamation remains in effect.
“I have rescinded the local masking order to ensure there is no confusion in Yakima County and that there is clear and consistent guidance at the local and state level. Yakima County will continue to follow state and federal masking guidance,” Jecha said in a news release.
The state’s update follows new masking recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in public, except when in health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, schools and public transportation.
Businesses may still require fully vaccinated patrons to mask up. Some counties such as King County have elected to keep their local mandates in place until 70% of the population age 5 and older are fully vaccinated.
Jecha reiterated his decision to rescind the local mask order during Wednesday’s Board of Health meeting.
The local directive recommending people mask up in public was enacted in early June 2020 by former Health Officer Dr. Teresa Everson.
Inslee issued a masking mandate about two weeks later, when Yakima County had the highest infection rate on the West Coast.
Inslee’s mask mandate originally started with Yakima County and was expanded statewide. It came with enforcement power, and businesses faced penalties for not requiring customers to mask up.
Jecha said the state mandate superseded the local one at the time. Rescinding the local mandate erases any confusion people may have in the wake of the state’s updated one.
“It made things a lot clearer to people,” Jecha said.