Statewide Requirement to Wear Face Coverings

On June 26, the Washington State Department of Health initiated a statewide order requiring individuals to wear a face covering in all indoor public spaces and outdoors where physical distancing is not possible.

This order is consistent with the practices Virginia Mason has had in place for months, which requires that patients, visitors and team members wear a face covering inside our facilities at all times. As part of Virginia Mason’s policy, all patients and visitors are screened at facility entrances, asked a few questions and provided a mask if they do not have one.

Why Wear a Face Covering?

We encourage everyone to wear a face covering to:

  • Protect others, especially people who are immunocompromised, older or have comorbidities that increase risks of COVID-19
  • Protect health care workers and help ensure we are able to care for those in need
  • Protect the entire community

Face Coverings

Fabric face coverings — like cloth face masks, scarves and bandanas — must fit over your nose and mouth. It is important to save medical-grade surgical masks and N95 respirators for health care workers and people who have special health needs.

Exceptions

Some people do not need to follow this statewide order, including:

  • Babies and toddlers under age 2 should never wear cloth face coverings. Children ages 2-4 are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering.
  • All children ages 5 years and older should wear a face covering, unless medically directed to do otherwise.
  • Anyone with a disability that makes it hard for them to wear or remove a face covering.
  • Anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing and relies on facial cues to communicate.
  • Anyone who has been advised by a medical professional to not wear a face covering because of personal health issues.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or unable to remove the face covering without help.

We will not write accommodations exempting patients from wearing a face covering since Virginia Mason cannot condone increasing the risk of illness for others and in the community. If wearing a face covering presents a significant challenge, we will work with our patients on other strategies to help ensure their safety and the safety of others.

Thank You for Your Cooperation

Virginia Mason appreciates your support of this statewide order as we all do our individual part to help protect public health during the pandemic.