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A blog by your local public health experts

How will we know when Pierce County is close to Phase 2 of Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start plan?

Nigel Turner, Health Department Director of Communicable Disease
by Nigel Turner05/22/2020 11:55 a.m.
Updated: 05/22/2020

Life hasn’t been normal since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Pierce County. More than two months have passed since Gov. Inslee issued his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. We all want to move a little closer to normal as soon as we can. Let’s work together to get there.  

You have likely heard about other counties entering Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan and are wondering when Pierce County will do so. 

We know the current criteria Gov. Inslee will use to decide when counties can apply for a variance to move to Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan, but it could change. The Governor’s office is weighing many factors as it makes those decisions. 

We do know the kinds of things Gov. Inslee will consider—and what each of us can do to get there as quickly as possible. 

The number of COVID-19 cases in Pierce County by day

Pay attention to the data. 

The state has allowed several counties to apply for variances that would allow them to move to Phase 2 before the current Stay Home, Stay Health order expires June 1. They must meet several benchmarks:  

  • Add fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span. 
  • Be able to keep up with testing and disease investigation if cases increase again.  
  • Have plans to help people isolate or quarantine if they need it.  

How is Pierce County doing? 

Pierce County would need to have fewer than 90 cases over a 14-day period to qualify based on those criteria. That means an average of about six new cases a day. 

We have seen 216 new cases over the last 14 days, an average of about 15 per day. We update the numbers daily on our website. 

We continue to see encouraging signs. We had 10 or fewer cases 6 times during that period. And yesterday, we dropped below 6 new cases for the first time, reporting 4.  

Along with our healthcare and community partners, we are leaning forward to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community’s health.  

We are also working to build a team of disease investigators to help contain outbreaks if they occur. Some of our staff will put aside their regular duties to join that team, and we will also bring in others to help. 

Finally, we set up temporary care centers for residents to quarantine or isolate if they need a safe place to do so.  

Everyone has a role to play. 

We plan to be ready when the time comes to move to Phase 2. You can do the same.  

Most importantly, continue to follow guidance to help get our numbers down: 

Businesses, government agencies and other public settings should make sure they are ready to work differently. You can find resources and guidance for reopening on our website. 

We understand. We all want to get back to normal as soon as we can. And it will take all of us  working together to get there.  

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

Nigel Turner, Health Department Director of Communicable Disease

by Nigel Turner

Nigel leads our work to help keep your family safe from communicable diseases.

 

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.