Inslee says pandemic ‘turning point’ could see mask requirements lifted soon


Gov. Jay Inslee welcomed declines in COVID hospitalizations this week as evidence the state is at a turning point in the pandemic. COVID-19 hospitalizations and case counts remain high, but Inslee on Wednesday said the trends indicate we are at a turning point in the pandemic that could result in mask requirements being relaxed.

Inslee announced a series actions that will be lifted Feb. 18. Washington National Guard service members will begin to wind down deployment to hospitals; hospitals will be able to resume non-urgent procedures; and outdoor mask requirements at large events with more than 500 attendees will also end.

Conversations are also being had about when and how to safely change indoor mask requirements. Inslee said he would announce a decision next week.

"For the millions of Washingtonians who have quietly been doing all the right things these past two years to protect themselves, their families and their communities, thank you. You have helped save lives. We will continue to move forward carefully and cautiously, together," Inslee said.