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CDC releases new masking recommendations, but Washington’s mask mandate stays in place

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 25, 2022

With a line of cars behind her, Pamela Flippins is administered a COVID-19 test, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, by EMT Liam Schaal at Spokane Falls Community College. Discovery Health MD operates the testing site. A second testing site run by Discovery, at the Spokane County Fairgrounds will close on Monday. A new testing site will open on March 7.  (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)
With a line of cars behind her, Pamela Flippins is administered a COVID-19 test, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, by EMT Liam Schaal at Spokane Falls Community College. Discovery Health MD operates the testing site. A second testing site run by Discovery, at the Spokane County Fairgrounds will close on Monday. A new testing site will open on March 7. (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on community transmission of COVID-19 on Friday, which recommends masks indoors in only counties with “high” levels of transmission.

Each county was assigned a rating of high, medium or low COVID-19 community levels based on hospitalizations from COVID-19 and new cases. At the “high” level, community members are encouraged to wear masks indoors, while “medium” and “low” counties are not.

Washington and Idaho have counties at each level, with parts of the Puget Sound at “low” levels and parts of central Washington considered to have “high” disease levels. Spokane, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Lincoln, Adams and Ferry counties are rated in the “medium” category. Whitman County was ranked “low.”

In Idaho, Bonner County, was rated “high,” Kootenai, Boundary, Shoshone and Benewah are “medium,” and Latah is “low.”

The CDC continues to recommend that people at risk for severe disease with COVID-19 seek guidance from their health care providers about masking and proper precautions. The CDC also continues to recommend testing if you have COVID-19 symptoms, and staying up to date with vaccines.

The new CDC recommendations will not change Washington’s statewide mask mandate, which is in place until March 21 .

The Washington Department of Health is updating its recommendations and comparing the CDC metrics to state data, according to a spokesperson there, but there is no plan to modify the guidance changes, which are set to take place on March 21.

“Our office and our state Department of Health are reviewing the updated guidance from the CDC and evaluating their data, metrics and approach,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news release. “March 21 remains the current date for ending the state’s indoor mask requirements, and we’ll have more to say next week.”

Testing site at Spokane fairgrounds moves

The community testing site at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center will close on Monday at 5:30 p.m. and move to a new location.

The new site likely will open on March 7.

Discovery Health will continue to operate the new site, located at 13414 E. Sprague Avenue in Spokane Valley.

This drive-thru testing site will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. once it reopens again.

Appointments can be made online for testing sites, or they are open for people to just drive up. There are other community testing sites open to Spokane County residents free of charge.

Here’s a look at local numbers

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 107 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and no additional deaths.

There are 99 patients hospitalized with the virus in Spokane hospitals.

The Panhandle Health District reported 38 new cases and 10 additional deaths. There are still 4,125 backlogged COVID-19 cases at the district.

There have been 916 deaths due to COVID-19 in Panhandle residents.

There are 66 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is primarily funded by the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, with additional support from Report for America and members of the Spokane community. These stories can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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