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As COVID insurance policies loosen, well being officers urge warning


OLYMPIA — State well being specialists urge folks to maintain sporting masks in public at the same time as they’re now not federally or domestically required on buses, ferries, planes and trains.

Transit companies throughout the Puget Sound area, together with Everett Transit and Community Transit, introduced Tuesday they’ve ended masks mandates for passengers.

It is a “new era of this pandemic,” mentioned Kathleen Custer, president of Amalgamated Transit Union 1576, the union that represents Community Transit drivers. She mentioned the union has been annoyed by the company’s obvious refusal to help drivers with masks enforcement.

“We hope the public makes good choices in keeping everyone safe by wearing a mask in those confined areas such as the bus, and we continue to pray for the health and safety of all our members and the public,” Custer mentioned in an e mail.

In a briefing Wednesday, state Department of Health officers mentioned regardless of a slight enhance in COVID-19 circumstances, the flat charge for hospitalizations means they’re not alarmed but. In Snohomish County, there have been 783 confirmed circumstances this week. That’s up from the earlier week’s 572, in accordance with native well being officers.

“We’re really watching hospitalizations,” Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah mentioned. “The most important thing for us is health care capacity.”

The variety of folks being hospitalized with COVID infections has been “markedly less” than through the peak of omicron circumstances earlier this 12 months, Shah mentioned. Similarly, deaths from COVID will not be rising statewide.

On Tuesday, Snohomish County had 28 COVID-positive hospital sufferers, with two of these on ventilators, in accordance with county knowledge.

State well being officers credit score vaccinations and the obvious mildness of the BA.2 variant for the lowering variety of diseases that want a hospital keep.

Though masks are now not necessary on public transit, well being officers urge folks to maintain sporting them and follow lots of the different precautions used over the previous two years, similar to social distancing, testing and isolation when experiencing signs.

“We know that masks work, we know that all these other strategies work,” Shah mentioned.

Guidelines had been going to vary from pandemic response to “learning to live with COVID,” state epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist mentioned.

“This is the transition we expected,” he mentioned.

The state is utilizing wastewater to watch for outbreaks to complement knowledge as mass testing websites wind down and residence testing, which depends on self-reporting for statewide knowledge, turns into extra frequent.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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