June 26, 2020

Joint Information Center
Washington State Department of Health

Retired Gen. James Mattis urges Washingtonians to stay united, wear face coverings to fight COVID-19

 As communities across Washington state experience spikes in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, former U.S. Defense Secretary, Gen. (R) James Mattis is urging Washingtonians to follow physical distancing recommendations and wear face coverings to help slow the spread.

“The good news is we’re making progress,” Mattis says in a public service announcement. “And that is good news but we’re not at the end of the road. Make sure we’re wearing the face masks and we keep the social distancing. And let’s not go out more than we have to.”

Effective today, Washingtonians are now required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces such as stores, offices and restaurants. The order also requires face coverings outdoors when individuals can't stay 6 feet apart. Individuals do not need to wear a cloth face covering in their home when they are only with people in their household, when alone in their car, or when outdoors and people are far apart.

“Over the course of my career, I’ve learned that divisiveness will never work in defeating an enemy,” Mattis added. “We've got to all pull together. Sometimes it’s not pleasant. Some of the things we have to do – like wear a face mask and all. We can get through this if we’re united and we’re going to win. So let’s stick together Washington and keep up the good fight until we’re on top of this.”

Meanwhile, personnel with the state’s Emergency Management Division, in partnership with the procurement team at the state Department of Enterprise Services, distributed nearly 2.8 million face coverings with a plan to distribute two masks to every Washingtonian below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The state delivers the face coverings to local emergency management offices who then work with various community organizations and service providers to deliver them to individuals. More information:

Want to help make face coverings for those who need it? Join the Lt. Governor’s Mask Challenge here. If you or your sewing team commits to making 100 masks for the Washington Mask Challenge, their office will send you donated fabric free of charge!

More information about the face cover order at

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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