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Seattle, King Co. urges people to wear masks in most areas

May 12, 2020 GMT
King County Metro transit security workers wear masks as they walk off of a transit platform Monday, May 11, 2020, in Seattle. The coronavirus pandemic has plunged Puget Sound-area transit agencies into crisis-planning mode, as ridership and revenue have plunged, and people likely won't be returning to buses and trains in large numbers anytime soon. The Seattle Times reports that beyond the immediate health crisis, the pandemic threatens to undo years of transit growth and plunge local transit systems into a financial setback worse than the Great Recession in the late 2000s. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
King County Metro transit security workers wear masks as they walk off of a transit platform Monday, May 11, 2020, in Seattle. The coronavirus pandemic has plunged Puget Sound-area transit agencies into crisis-planning mode, as ridership and revenue have plunged, and people likely won't be returning to buses and trains in large numbers anytime soon. The Seattle Times reports that beyond the immediate health crisis, the pandemic threatens to undo years of transit growth and plunge local transit systems into a financial setback worse than the Great Recession in the late 2000s. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
King County Metro transit security workers wear masks as they walk off of a transit platform Monday, May 11, 2020, in Seattle. The coronavirus pandemic has plunged Puget Sound-area transit agencies into crisis-planning mode, as ridership and revenue have plunged, and people likely won't be returning to buses and trains in large numbers anytime soon. The Seattle Times reports that beyond the immediate health crisis, the pandemic threatens to undo years of transit growth and plunge local transit systems into a financial setback worse than the Great Recession in the late 2000s. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) — People who ride buses in the Seattle area will be required to wear masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus and authorities are also strongly urging people to cover their faces in many other situations.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine made an announcement Monday afternoon, saying people are urged to wear masks in grocery stores, businesses and outdoors when they can’t keep six feet apart from others.

Masks are required for people who use King County Metro’s transit system, though riders won’t be prevented from boarding if they aren’t wearing one.

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“Wearing a mask may be an inconvenience, but it is a sign of our mutual concern for each other,” Constantine said.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, the public health director for Seattle and King County, said the new directive is effective May 18. It will not carry legal penalties for those who do not comply. The city and the county are working to distribute more than 200,000 cloth masks and face coverings to community groups and people in vulnerable populations.

The Seattle-area saw the nation’s first deadly cluster of COVID-19 in the nation, and King County has more than 7,000 confirmed cases and about 500 deaths, by far the most in the state.