Two years after pandemic began, another milestone in Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. – Starting at midnight Friday, people in Washington will be able to walk into stores, restaurants and schools and do something they haven’t been able to do there since August 2021: take off their masks.

The end of Washington’s indoor mask mandate comes on the same day that two years ago, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Lifting the mask mandate will feel like a milestone for many, eager to get back to a sense of normalcy that was lost on that day in March 2020.

For kids, Monday will feel like it hasn’t felt in more than 730 days. March 13, 2020, Washington Governor Jay Inslee ordered all schools in the state to close for six weeks.

Schools never opened again that school year and it would be many months before they’d return to their classrooms at all.

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Saturday, downtown streets in Spokane will be filled with parade floats and bands in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade in 2020 was canceled just days before it was scheduled to go on.

Last year, the parade didn’t take place at all.

These hopeful milestones come as cases drop to levels Spokane County, Washington and the nation haven’t seen since last summer.

Still, for many, the pandemic rages on.

Four people have died with COVID-19 in Spokane County since March 1. There are 57 people are in the hospital, fighting the virus. Overall, cases are likely widely under-reported, as more people have access to free tests at home.

This weekend’s milestone and lifting of the mask mandate reminds us that this virus that has controlled much of our lives may be dying down, but with the possibilities of future waves and other variants, health officials nationwide remind people to remain vigilant, testing and isolating when possible.

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