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Wearing face coverings helps keep ourselves, our friends and families, and our Pierce County community healthy.

Director of Health Dr. Anthony Chen
by Anthony Chen05/20/2020 2:58 p.m.
Updated: 05/20/2020

Returning closer to normal lives means practicing all measures to protect one another.

Friends, colleagues, and members of the public have asked me whether they should wear masks when outside. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings when in public. Tacoma-Pierce County health Department and I support that recommendation.

In addition, the Governor’s Office provides mask requirements for certain industries and settings. It is important people working in those settings follow the requirements.

Keeping ourselves, our family and friends, and our community healthy.

As we go through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important each of us focuses on keeping ourselves, our family and friends, and our community healthy.

Many of you already are doing what you can : to wash your hands, cover your cough, and stay home when you are sick. During the pandemic, we have learned to work remotely, stay home except for essential needs, and socially distance when around other people. Wearing a cloth face covering or a face mask is a new and important habit we should learn.

We know that COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets. Face coverings and face masks stop droplets and help prevent other people from getting sick. They may also help protect you from droplets from others. This is especially important because we know that with COVID-19, like many other illnesses, you can shed virus and infect other people even before you feel sick. 

A woman wears a paper mask over her mouth and nose.

Leading by example.

We can choose to do what is right and what will help keep ourselves, our friends and families, and our community healthy.

Here is what you will see me doing:

  • I wear a cloth face covering when I am at work or in public. Whether it is shopping or taking a walk, I have it on. I am still looking for something that will work when I am running or biking.
  • During remote meetings where I am in a private setting, I will remove my face covering to accommodate participants who rely on reading lips and facial expression for communication.
  • When I speak publicly (or via remote platforms), I will recommend face coverings in addition to washing hands, covering coughs, staying home, keeping 6 feet apart, and other healthy behaviors.

Here is what you will see the Health Department doing:

  • We will institute a policy and procedure for Health Department staff and clients to use face coverings. We encourage Pierce County, cities and towns, and businesses to follow suit. We are happy to provide guidance.
  • We are planning community engagement, public education, marketing, and social marketing campaigns to encourage testing, social distancing, healthy behaviors, and use of face coverings. We are happy to collaborate with anyone else with the same objectives.
  • We keep accessibility in mind. People who are deaf or hard of hearing often use facial movements to relay their meaning or reading lips to understand others. Wearing a mask may interfere with their ability to communicate with—or understand—others. We must make sure everyone can communicate and remain safe.

Together, keeping our community healthy as we inch closer to normal.

We know many of you are already doing your part and helped us flatten the curve. However, as we are cautiously lifting restrictions on activities, we need to be careful:

  • Unlike flu, measles, whooping cough or other outbreaks we experience, we have almost no community immunity to COVID-19. Over 99% of our residents can still get sick.
  • In other places that have reopened, large outbreaks have occurred. 

If we want to return to greater freedoms and closer to normal lives, we all must do our best to wear face coverings and practice all the other measures to protect one another.

Make sure to follow us on social media. You will find our latest guidance, as well as a new campaign relying on humor to share the importance of wearing face coverings and to get more people talking about face covering as an essential part of keeping us healthy.

For more information about COVID-19, visit tpchd.org/coronavirus.

 

  1. Updated: 05/21/2020
Director of Health Dr. Anthony Chen

by Anthony Chen

Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH, is the Director of Health at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and chief health strategist for Pierce County.

 

We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.