Inslee says state is not looking at bringing back masks

·1 min read

King County officials are actively discussing reinstating a mask mandate, but the governor’s office says the state is not looking at additional restrictions.

Fourteen Washington state counties are currently considered high risk for COVID, and local hospitals report they’re running out of room. Health care professionals blame the lack of beds not just on the pandemic, but an unprecedented staffing crisis. Monday, the Washington State Hospital Association asked the state for money to increase emergency staffing. KIRO 7′s Lauren Donovan asked Gov. Inslee if he plans to foot the bill.

“Well, I don’t have immediate dollars in my pocket. This takes appropriation by the state legislators,” said Inslee. “I would be very open to additional investments in our health care system.”

Inslee says his administration has already invested $80 million last year to help in that regard.

“Bottom line, we don’t have nurses,” said Inslee. “I think the best solution to that is to build capacity in the skilled nursing centers so that they can have a place to discharge their people, and to do that will take additional funds.”

Right before the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Gov. Inslee announced a new directive in a statement:

“All new employees to be fully up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccination prior to starting work, including any recommended boosters. This change will take effect at the conclusion of rulemaking, sometime in the fall of 2022.”

According to Gov. Inslee, you have 52%-92% greater protection against hospitalization with a booster than if you’re just relying on an initial vaccination.

“As a manager, as an employer, we intend to keep our staff safe by using the vaccine even after the state of emergency has lifted,” said Inslee.

The governor anticipates to debate that decision with labor groups representing state workers over the next coming weeks.