Wearing a mask is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, until there is a vaccine or cure (1). As of July 2, businesses in Washington State must require all employees and customers to wear masks (2).
Because of our sharp increase in COVID-19 cases here in Okanogan County, this month Public Health drove around to local businesses to see how well our county is doing with mask wearing (we were not writing tickets or telling anyone what to do, this was just a day of observation).
We visited grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and specialty shops during our “snapshot” survey and counted everyone we saw as we walked through each store. We made a note of how many customers and employees were wearing masks and if they were wearing them correctly (nose AND mouth covered).
We counted around 400 people in total, and found that 78% of people were wearing a mask that covered their nose and mouth; 12% were not wearing the mask correctly; and 10% did not have on a mask of any kind. We also found that employees wore masks correctly much more often than customers did (85% of employees wore masks correctly compared to 74% of customers).
So, how is Okanogan county doing with masking? Well, this was just a quick snapshot from one day in time, but 78% is about a C+ in school. And these numbers can help explain our recent spike in cases in Okanogan County. When there are too many people in public who are not wearing masks properly, the virus can keep circulating.
To help our economy and schools reopen and keep our community safe, we’d want to get an A+ on masking in public spaces. Let’s all work to bring our COVID-19 case numbers down!
1.Evidence for the Effectiveness of Masks. Centers for Disease Control Website, Updated Aug 7, 2020.
2.Inslee extends face covering requirement for businesses statewide and halts county advancements. Washington Governor’s Website, July 2, 2020.