The health officers representing all 35 local health jurisdictions in Washington state signed a joint statement Thursday urging all residents to wear face coverings in public indoor settings.

In a signed statement, the coalition of health officers said they have banded together to pass on their “best public health advice to protect you, your family, and our communities.”

“This step will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public, including customers and workers, help stem the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many parts of the state and decrease the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant,” the statement said.

Health officials concerned with uptick in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations in Washington due to delta variant

The officers also urged the public, ages 12 and up to get vaccinated.

The recommendation comes as Washington is experiencing a severe increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations due to the delta variant in all counties, with the overwhelming majority of cases and hospitalizations among unvaccinated residents.

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Only two counties in the state have brought back mask mandates for indoor public settings. The masking requirement in Snohomish County went in effect Tuesday, for all residents ages 5 and up. A similar directive will go in effect Friday for Thurston County.

While Gov. Jay Inslee announced a vaccination mandate for most state employees and health care workers earlier this week, he stopped short of imposing a statewide mask mandate.

On Monday, he said further actions on masks may be taken if cases and hospitalizations continue to rise.

Masks are still required in K-12 settings, public transportation and congregate living areas like hospitals and jails.

The Thursday letter was signed by:

  • Northeast Tri County Health Officer Dr. Sam Artzis
  • Yakima County Health Officer Dr. Neil Barg
  • Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry
  • Chelan-Douglas Health Officer Dr. Malcom Butler
  • Grays Harbor County Health Officer Dr. John Bausher
  • Whitman County Health Officer Dr. Brad Bowman
  • Grant and Adams County Health Officer Dr. Alexander Brzezny
  • Pierce County Health Officer Dr. Anthony L-T Chen
  • San Juan County Health Officer Dr. Frank James
  • Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Steven Krager
  • Skagit and Island County Health Officer Dr. Howard Leibrand
  • Asotin County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz
  • Lincoln County Health Officer Dr. Ralph Monteagudo
  • Columbia County Health Officer Dr. Lewis Neace
  • King County Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey S. Duchin
  • Walla Walla County Health Officer Dr. Daniel Kaminsky
  • Kittitas County Health Officer Dr. Mark Larson
  • Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Locke
  • Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum County Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick
  • Kitsap County Health Officer Dr. Gib Morrow
  • Benton-Franklin and Klickitat County Health Officer Dr. Amy Person
  • Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters
  • Whatcom County Health Officer Dr. Greg Stern
  • Okanogan County Health Officer Dr. James Wallace
  • Mason County Health Officer Dr. Daniel Stein
  • Spokane Regional Health District Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez

The signature for Garfield County Health District’s interim health officer Dr. Larry Jecha was unavailable, according to the statement.