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May 13, 2020

Skagit Public Health Officer reminds individuals to use face coverings in public settings 

Today, May 13, 2020, Skagit County Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Leibrand issued a statement reminding and strongly encouraging individuals to wear fabric face coverings or masks in all public situations, including workplaces, at parks and during essential trips to the grocery store or doctor’s office. Exceptions to this recommendation would include children, people with disabilities, deaf individuals who use facial movements as part of communication and others recommended by their doctor not to wear a mask.

“Wearing a fabric face covering or mask is a simple action that everyone can take to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community,” said Dr. Leibrand. “Face masks and coverings help prevent the spread of infection by blocking infectious droplets from entering into the air when a contagious person coughs, sneezes or speaks. We see transmission from people who are asymptomatic all the time, so it’s important that everyone wear a mask, even if they’re feeling well.”

Current research shows that masking is most effective at preventing transmission of COVID-19 when a mask is worn by the contagious person. A person can be contagious with COVID-19 and asymptomatic, so it’s important that we all wear masks to prevent the spread.

“Wearing a fabric face covering or mask is not only about protecting yourself, it’s about protecting the most vulnerable in our community,” said Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director.  “I wear a mask because I know that I could be contagious and still not feel sick, and I want to take every precaution to protect my colleagues, friends, family and community.” 

Dr. Leibrand issued an initial recommendation that all Skagit county residents wear fabric masks in public in early April 2020. As the community returns to some normal operations, including businesses reopening, and face-to-face encounters increase, masking becomes more important than ever. Dr. Leibrand and Skagit Public Health continue to urge individuals who are able to do so to wear masks when in public and at work.

“We want to return to normal as soon as possible, and reopen many of our small businesses, schools and institutions that have been closed in the fight against COVID-19,” said Chair of the Skagit County Board of Commissioners Ron Wesen. “Masking is an easy thing we can all do to keep our community healthy as we begin the safe reopening process, and help prevent us from having to go back to stricter physical distancing and isolation guidances. I strongly encourage everyone concerned with the economic well-being of Skagit to wear a mask in public at all times.”

Wearing a mask is not a substitute for other physical distancing practices. Dr. Leibrand continues to encourage everyone to use good physical distancing and hygiene practices, especially when in public. Continue to stay home as much as possible. When out, remain six feet apart from others you come in contact with, wash your hands frequently and do not touch your face or mask. Further, proper care and cleaning of your mask is equally important.

“Masks should be washed in the same manner as your other laundry. Do not use chemical disinfectants on your masks,” added Dr. Leibrand. “Do not touch your mask with unclean hands, do not set it down on foreign surfaces and don’t share your mask with others. With these good practices, masks can help us as we begin to return to normal.”

This recommendation applies to all Skagit residents and visitors, and is effective until rescinded by the Health Officer. For more information, contact Skagit Public Health at 360-416-1500.