Spokane County’s health officer wants you to wear a mask

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz wants you to wear a mask when you are visiting indoor public spaces.

Lutz issued a directive on Wednesday that strongly encourages members of the public to wear masks when visiting stores and restaurants. The directive is not enforceable, but Lutz said covering your mouth and nose is good practice.

This is not mandatory, but Lutz said “you should do the right thing.”

“We talk about rights and we talk about monitoring people’s rights, and constitutional rights, well no one gives you the right to harm somebody,” Lutz said.

You don’t have to wear a mask when you’re outside at a safe distance from other people.

Lutz said it is best to wear one when you’re in a tighter space, like at the store as you wait in line.

“Masks are you protecting me, and me protecting you, and us protecting each other,” Lutz said.

If masks are important now, then why did the CDC say we didn’t need to wear them when the pandemic started? Dr. Lutz said the science has changed.

Lutz said masks are most important in places where people cannot socially distance or in enclosed spaces with many people. They catch respiratory droplets, which helps limit the spread of COVID-19.

Health studies from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Hong Kong tell us a face mask could limit the spread of those droplets somewhere between 75-80 percent.

“If  you go to other cultures across the world, you will see people wearing masks, because they want to keep people safe,” Dr. Lutz said. “In our culture, it’s about ‘me’.”

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Lutz’s message came Wednesday as Spokane County applies to advance to phase 2 of the state’s reopening process, allowing more services to resume and members of the community to access those services.

Under phase 2, restaurants can reopen for dine-in services at limited capacity, retail services can continue and hair salons can resume operations.

Lutz said the health district will encourage businesses to post signage encouraging patrons to wear masks and signs will be posted throughout the community.

“I strongly encourage ask you to wear masks for everyone so that we can continue to open up, and businesses can stay open and we can move forward,” Lutz said.

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