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Media Contacts

For members of the news media

Edie Jeffers, Communications and Community Relations Manager
Phone: (253) 798-2853
Cell: (253) 405-6822
Fax:  (253) 798-7627
 
Steve Metcalf, Communications Specialist
Phone: (253) 798-6540
Cell: (253) 345-8238
Fax: (253) 798-7627

First COVID-19 related death of Pierce County resident.

Post Date:03/18/2020

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash.— We confirmed Wednesday that a Puyallup woman in her 50s died of complications from COVID-19. She is the first Pierce County resident to die during the outbreak. 

The woman had multiple underlying health conditions. She was admitted to MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup on March 6. 

“Our hearts go out to the woman’s friends, family and the many people who know and cared about her in the Puyallup community,” said Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Director of Health Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH.  “This underscores the threat COVID-19 poses to our county, our state and the world. We all must do our part to prevent the spread.” 

This loss is a reminder COVID-19 can be particularly dangerous for people in high-risk groups. That includes people who have underlying conditions, are over 60 and are pregnant.  

Social distancing protects people in those high-risk groups. Even if you are not considered high-risk, you can become infected with COVID-19 and spread it to those who are. People who don’t have symptoms can be contagious. 

We will hold a news conference for members of the media at 1 p.m. at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. We are located at 3629 S. D. St., Tacoma, Wash., 98418. Contact Steve Metcalf if you have questions. We follow the government's recommendations for social distancing. We ask that members of the public not attend.

Am I at risk? 

The current risk of COVID-19 in Washington is increasing. Public health is identifying more positive cases of the disease in the state. These increasing cases suggest the disease is spreading in Washington. As we continue to test more people, we expect to find more positive cases. People most at risk traveled internationally to an affected area and have symptoms: 

  • Cough. 
  • Fever. 
  • Shortness of breath. 

If you think you were at risk of exposure to COVID-19, call ahead before you go to your healthcare provider, urgent care, or the emergency department.  

What can I do to protect myself from COVID-19? 

Currently, no vaccine exists for COVID-19. You can take steps to protect yourself and people around you from this and other diseases: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Avoid close contact with others. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. 
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces. 
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are sick. 

It’s cold and flu season. These more common respiratory illnesses have affected our communities—especially the flu. So far this season, 10 adults and two children have died from flu-related complications. The flu vaccine is your best protection against the flu. It’s not too late to get your flu shot. Learn more at www.tpchd.org/flu

What are coronaviruses? 

Coronaviruses aren’t new. They form a large family of viral illnesses that includes the common cold. Experts have not previously identified the coronavirus in the current outbreak. We continue to learn more about it. 

How do coronaviruses spread? 

The most common ways human coronaviruses spread: 

  • Coughing and sneezing. 
  • Contact with a sick person—within six feet—for 10 minutes or more. 
  • Contact with an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands. 

Diseases don’t discriminate. 

The Health Department is your source for reliable local public health information. Make sure you seek out and share accurate information related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Diseases don’t discriminate or stop at city, county, or international borders. COVID-19 may have originated abroad, but not everyone from parts of the world with increased risk has the disease or was potentially exposed to it. Remember to: 

  • Rely on and share trusted sources of information about the outbreak. 
  • Avoid comments that unfairly label, harass, or spread misinformation.  

Find updated information about the novel coronavirus and our sharable infographic at www.tpchd.org/coronavirus.  

Steve Metcalf, Communications Specialist 
(253) 798-6540, (253) 345-8238, (cell/text), smetcalf@tpchd.org

Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager 
(253) 798-2853, (253) 405-6822 (cell/text), ejeffers@tpchd.org 

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment to protect public health. We are one of roughly 244 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at www.tpchd.org

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