Poof the masks are gone, the community reacts to the indoor mask mandate ending

WASHINGTON AND OREGON – The mask mandate expired on Friday at 11:59 p.m. for most indoor spaces in Washington and Oregon. While some people are celebrating the end of of mask wearing, others aren’t super happy.

Masks are still required in some spaces like healthcare settings, correctional facilities, long-term care facilities, public transportation and some businesses. Businesses have the option to continue to require their customers to wear masks.

While going into different stores, about half of the people are wearing masks and other half are not. Mary Martinez, who’s visiting from Texas said there’s a big difference in mask wearing from Texas and Washington. Martinez sees more people wearing masks in Washington. She said she’s happy masks are now optional.

“I want to have my freedom back to do how we used to do and not be worrying about all that other stuff because sickness is going to be an everyday thing you just got to take precautions and stay healthy,” Martinez said.

Others, like Yakima resident Izabelle Herrera, aren’t sure how they feel yet.

“50/50 for me because covid is obviously still a scare but without the mask I feel like its gonna be easier to notice people so you know what’s going on and if something bad is gonna happen,” Herrera said.

Herrera said masks are optional at her school now and that concerns her a bit.

“It makes me feel a little less safe just knowing that it can spread quicker,” Herrera said.

Yakima resident Maria Gamboa said she’ll continue to wear a mask until she sees cases drop more. Gamboa got covid three times and wants to take precautions to prevent getting it again.

“I was about to die, my lungs collapsed, I couldn’t breathe, I had a high temperature, my bones hurt,” Gamboa said. “I don’t want to go through that again, I don’t want my family to suffer again.”

Most K-12 schools in our area are choosing to follow the state’s guidance on mask wearing and make it optional. This includes the Grandview, Union Gap and Yakima School Districts. Masks are still required on school buses and the school nurse’s office.

For some institutions of higher education, the mask mandate is still in place. According to Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-05, colleges who don’t have a fully vaccinated student body must continue following CDC guidelines like mask wearing.

According to the Director Community Relations of Yakima Valley College Dustin Wunderlich, the governor hasn’t updated that proclamation.

YVC’s mask mandate won’t end until March 20.

After that date, students won’t have to wear masks, social distance or complete wellness checks before coming on campus. The dental clinic on campus counts as a healthcare setting, so masks will still be required there.

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