Inslee not itching to restart mask mandate
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — The return of an indoor mask mandate isn’t under consideration today, but might be on the horizon.
“That’s not under consideration right now ... there might be some changes in the next week or so, we’ll be discussing it in a few days or so,” Gov. Jay Inslee answered during an open-ended session to take reporters’ questions May 18 in Olympia.
Other steps, such as pausing elective surgeries to save hospital space, do not appear to be in the cards. “I’m not seeing it to a point where hospitals cannot function,” Inslee said.
Snohomish County’s COVID-19 infection transmission level was rated as “medium” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up from “low” status near the start of the month.
Inside the county’s hospitals, 4.2% of all beds are being used by COVID-19 patients, from CDC data from May 19.
The governor isn’t saying when or if he’ll lift the general vaccination mandate for state employees. On Friday, May 20, he lifted the mandate on state contractors who work outdoors such as contracted landscapers, contracted or volunteer wildland firefighters, and contracted construction workers.
In other news, Inslee also said he will not suspend the state gas tax. He believes oil companies wouldn’t hold down prices, and said suspending the gas tax would interrupt state roadway projects with public bond packages tied to gas tax revenue returns. “If we simply eliminate the gas tax, the oil companies would raise the price to that pain point,” Inslee said.
There was much discussion on funding for homelessness efforts, including for converting hotels for homeless sheltering and building new homeless shelter capacity. Inslee said any state grants given to cities and counties for local homeless sheltering efforts should have a clause to include setting aside space for people experiencing homelessness on state right-of-way such as highways.
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