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Spokane Regional Health District addresses mask mandate questions amid lower case numbers

Hospitalizations have gone down 42% in the last few weeks, however Omicron has yielded more infections in school-aged children than any other variant.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) went live on Facebook Wednesday morning to address questions regarding mask guidance and mandates. 

SRHD Health Officer Francisco Velazquez began the meeting at 10 a.m. by addressing the downward trend in COVID-19 cases across the state. Hospitalizations in Spokane went down by 42% over the last couple of weeks, dropping from 309 to 124 in the metro area, according to Velazquez. 

Despite the drop in cases, Velazquez said Omicron has affected school-aged children more than past variants. There are currently seven children admitted to the hospital including one in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). 

Currently masks are still required everywhere in Washington though Gov. Jay Inslee announced last Wednesday the outdoor mask mandate will be lifted by Feb. 18. 

There are no plans in place to lift the indoor mask mandate, but Inslee is expected to address this in a scheduled press conference for Thursday at 2 p.m. in Olympia. 

Velazquez encourages people to continue wearing masks as long as they are required to avoid taking steps back from the progress that has been made. While not there yet, he believes endemic status, similar to that of the cold or flu, is possible. 

“I have reason to be optimistic if we follow the metrics,” Velazquez said in a statement. 

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