On Oct. 31, all remaining COVID-19 emergency orders in Washington ended, more than two years after they were declared.
On Sept. 8, Governor Jay Inslee announced that 12 proclamations, including some related to healthcare facilities, under his COVID-19 emergency authority were no longer necessary. This includes ending the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement, Safe Workers, Children and Youth Mental Health Crisis, Restrictions on Travelers, Higher Education, and K-12 Schools proclamations, as well as the Safeguarding Public Trust and Stability in Local Health Jurisdictions, Public Records Act — Contact Tracing — Personal Information, Annual Leave and Pay Procedures, “WASHINGTON READY,” and COVID-19 State of Emergency proclamations. This means about 87 percent of all COVID-19 emergency proclamations have been revoked since the pandemic’s start.
Until further notice, Bellevue College remains a vaccinated campus, requiring students and employees to be vaccinated or to obtain an exemption from the college. Masks are no longer required on campus as of May 2, but students and employees are still required to report COVID-19 exposures, symptoms and positive tests.
Governor Inslee also gave an additional 90 days for the orders to go into effect to allow the Washington State Department of Health and Department of Social and Health Services to smoothly transition facilities and professionals. In addition to supporting the healthcare system’s non-COVID-19-related challenges, the state is also providing approximately 22 million dollars to maintain contracted staff and to support the patient transition.
The pandemic remains ongoing, but it has been declared “no longer an emergency.” Currently, the state has the fifth lowest COVID-19 death rate nationwide, and all counties have low community transmission levels except for two: Ferry County and Pacific County.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, safety precautions in the workplace will continue with the masking order in healthcare facilities and in long-term care facilities, as well as in some correctional facilities in communities where transmission levels are high, according to the CDC.
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries will still require employers to meet certain safety standards, including keeping employees who have tested positive away from the workplace for at least five days, even if they are asymptomatic, as well as providing PPE, exposure notifications, anti-discrimination rules and protection over the option to wear masks in the workplace.