2:48 PM: We’re monitoring an online media briefing with Mayor Jenny Durkan, County Executive Dow Constantine, and city/county Public Health Director Dr. Jeff Duchin. They’ve just announced they are urging everyone to wear a mask (face covering) in public. Why now? It’s a “precarious” time, said Constantine. It’s a new public-health “directive.” Durkan, meantime, says advice and directives keep evolving because “there is no playbook” for “this virus.” Dr. Duchin says the fight against the virus is likely to last “many months.” He says his directive re-emphasizes the CDC’s recommendation. He also notes that it’s not a matter of protecting yourself, but protecting others. PHSKC’s Matias Valenzuela stresses that there won’t be penalties or law enforcement of this, and that they are working on mask availability for those who are having trouble getting them.
3 PM: In Q&A, Constantine is asked, why issue this directive if it won’t be enforced? He says he believes that as with other directives, people will comply. Dr. Duchin reiterated that people can be contagious without symptoms, and so – again – wearing a face covering is “an important strategy” to protect others, just in case. … Durkan and Constantine says the city and county will be distributing masks/face coverings to community groups – 45,000 and 115,000, respectively. … “Wearing a mask is a sign that together, we care about one another,” adds Dr. Duchin, while reiterating that his directive is “strongly urging,” not requiring masks. But: Businesses CAN require customers to wear face coverings, the mayor notes, if they choose to have that requirement. … What works best, in fabric face coverings? Snug, multiple layers, Dr. Duchin elaborates. … He’s also asked to elaborate on current trends. The number of cases/deaths has “stabilized,” he says, but they’d like to see fewer. “We’re continuing to see too many cases. … We haven’t suppressed transmission as much as we should.”
3:17 PM: The briefing is over. Video is expected soon via Seattle Channel (added below); we’ll add that and official links when available.