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Washington State dropping all COVID-19 emergency orders at end of October

The announcement comes 961 days after the nation's first case of COVID-19 was reported in Washington state.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee will lift all remaining COVID-19 emergency proclamations and the state of emergency order by October 31. The announcement comes 961 days after the nation's first case of COVID-19 was reported in Washington state. 

Inslee also said that the statewide Face Covering Order would remain in effect in health care and long-term care settings and correctional facilities under "certain circumstances" after the state of emergency order ends. 

"I'm confident now that we have reached a significant milestone in the fight against COVID," Inslee said during a press conference. "We do have some more work to do against COVID."

Inslee added that Washington has been resolute in the face of the pandemic.

Vaccination against COVID-19 will continue to be required for employment at most Washington state agencies. Vaccination requirements will end for health care and education workers, but employers still have the option to require them if they choose. 

Although state workers will still be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots will become optional. Inslee said the state is working on an incentive program to encourage state employees to get their booster shots.

“We’ve come a long way the past two years in developing the tools that allow us to adapt and live with COVID-19,” Inslee said in a statement. “Ending this order does not mean we take it less seriously or will lose focus on how this virus has changed the way we live. We will continue our commitments to the public’s well-being, but simply through different tools that are now more appropriate for the era we’ve entered.”

Vaccination against Washington State has steadily slowed since doses were first available to the public in April 2021. Last week, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced that starting September 5 the state would begin offering Omicron variant-targeted booster doses heading into the fall season. The release of doses is being staggered each week to build the state's inventory.

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