Face covering compliance high in the San Juans

An informal survey performed by San Juan County’s COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center team found that the majority of islanders and tourists are complying with the mask ordinance.

“I would say that overall, again this one snapshot in time shows that face-covering compliance is quite high,” Environmental Health Kyle Dodd, who has been serving as incident command manager, said during the county council’s July 28 meeting. “Of course, there’s always room for improvement, however, I think that compliance will continue to improve with increased focus — not only locally — but focus statewide on education and enforcement.”

Dodd explained that the survey was an attempt to quantify mask usage and that the limited survey provides some data to the county regarding compliance.

Over the week of July 19-25, county staff, council members and volunteers monitored ferry traffic and surveyed pedestrians and businesses to get an understanding of how many people were wearing masks.

According to Dodd, the ferry survey concluded with a total of 77-100 percent compliance. The survey monitored ferries coming from Anacortes to Lopez, Orcas and San Juan on both Monday and Friday.

In the pedestrian portion, surveyors stood in the center of Lopez Village, Eastsound and Friday Harbor. Of the 279 people observed only 20 were not wearing masks; five of those not wearing masks did not have one on their person, Dodd said.

The third part of the survey was two-fold — the Economy Development Council asked businesses to fill out an online survey and then volunteers visited businesses in person. In the online survey, 41 businesses responded with 38 reporting a very high compliance rate. When customers were asked to put on a mask in the store if they were not already wearing one, 36 of the businesses said the customer would comply.

In the second part of the business survey, volunteers discovered customers complied between 70 and 100 percent of the time on Lopez; between 95-100 percent of the time on Orcas; and between 90 and 100 percent of the time on San Juan.

“I think this is becoming more of a habit and we’ll continue to see higher percentages of those complying,” Dodd said.