As communities across the 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 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.”

Don’t have a mask? The CDC has guidance on a no-sew method to make face coverings from a T-shirt or a bandana: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-make-cloth-face-covering.html

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: https://mil.wa.gov/news/state-distributing-millions-of-free-face-masks-to-low-income-residents

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! https://www.ltgov.wa.gov/mask-challenge

More information about the face cover order at https://coronavirus.wa.gov/masks.