After loosening masking recommendations for vaccinated people, the CDC is now urging people in areas with high COVID-19 case rates to put on a face mask when indoors.
The recommendation comes as the significantly more contagious Delta variant spreads through communities that have much lower vaccination rates. That has led to an increase in hospitalizations for younger people.
According to CDC data, several counties in Eastern Washington have a high rate of COVID-19 spread. Those counties include Spokane, Ferry in Northeast Washington, and most of the southeast region of the state.
A little more than half of Spokane County residents have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Most other counties in Eastern Washington have vaccination rates between 34% and 49%.
Kootenai and Shoshone counties in north Idaho also have high rates of COVID-19 transmission. Most northern Idaho counties have vaccination rates below 40%.
The Spokane Regional Health District is not currently considering a mask mandate. In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Francisco Velazquez urged people to get vaccinated and wear a mask.
"The vaccines remain our best tool to combat COVID-19, and when combined with wearing face masks indoors in group settings, as well as where required, and following basic public health measures such as hand washing and respiratory etiquette, our community will prevail over rising case rates as we have done over the past several months," he said.