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Washington Governor expected to update mask rules Thursday

Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to give an update on Washington's indoor mask mandate as COVID-19 cases decline in the state. Watch live on KREM and KREM.com at 2 p.m.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans to end the state’s indoor mask requirements on March 21 in most locations, including schools. Masks will still be required in health care settings.

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Earlier reporting:

With Covid-19 cases declining in Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee has scheduled a press conference today to talk about what his office calls “transitioning to the next phase of Washington state’s COVID-19 response.”

The Governor is expected to address the state’s indoor mask mandate. So far, Inslee has not set a date for when the indoor mask mandate will lift, but said last week the "day is coming.”

The Thursday press conference is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. in Olympia. You will be able to watch it live on KREM 2 and KREM.com. The Governor’s office said that Inslee will be joined by Umair Shah and Lacy Fehrenbach from the Washington State Department of Health, as well as State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, who is expected to provide more guidance on masking in schools.

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This week, at least two school districts in Washington voted to make masks optional for students and staff in defiance of the state’s mask mandate. The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has warned schools that they could lose state funding if they don’t follow the law.

The warning from Reykdal comes after he sent a letter himself to Gov. Inslee last week asking him to remove the mask mandate in schools.

In that letter to the Governor, Reykdal said with high immunity rates and rapid testing available, now is the time to address masking in schools.

While we wait to learn more about plans to end Washington’s indoor masking rules, Inslee already announced that outdoor masking rule will end on Feb. 18. That rule required masks to be worn at large outdoor events. The state will also remove the requirement that hospitals postpone non-elective surgery on Feb. 18 and end hospital assignments for National Guard members.

A statewide indoor mask mandate has been in place in Washington since Aug. 23, 2021. An outdoor mask mandate was added in September for events with 500 or more people.

Last week, both Oregon and California announced plans to lift mask mandates in indoor places, leaving many in Washington wondering when the Evergreen State will announce changes.

The spike in COVID-19 cases related to the Omicron variant is on a downward trend. Cases in Washington are dropping quickly, a trend that is expected to continue.

WATCH MORE: Kettle Falls School District Superintendent Michael Olsen on defying Washington mask mandate

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