BELLINGHAM, WA – Washington state’s newest order, intended to combat the increase of COVID-19, has stricter requirements for face coverings. In addition to wearing masks in stores and other enclosed spaces, the new order requires mask use in public, businesses to enforce mask use by customers, and employers to provide masks for their employees.
Starting in March, when Whatcom Unified Command (WUC) was activated in response to the threat of COVID-19 locally, WUC has worked to solicit and distribute face masks. In total, WUC has now purchased or received – and distributed – over 300,000 masks, with a third to local businesses.
In June, WUC received more than 137,000 masks from the state for vulnerable populations; those masks have been distributed by school districts and social service partners, along with an additional 10,000 purchased and provided by WUC.
An additional 100,000 masks were provided by WUC to help businesses reopen. Those were distributed by Chambers of Commerce.
Aside from masks obtained by WUC, thousands of handmade masks have been produced and distributed by community volunteer mask-making groups. As well, private citizens contributed over 1,200 handmade masks through WUC. These masks were sanitized, bundled and distributed to essential businesses to support Phase 2 reopening. These handmade masks were delivered to WUC via ballot boxes around Whatcom County and in Bellingham.
With the upcoming primary election, the ballot boxes must be returned to their original purpose. Therefore, Sunday, July 12 is the last day handmade masks will be collected from ballot boxes. As of Monday, July 13, any mask donations should be directed to bellinghammakerspace.org.
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