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Board of Health approves Health Officer’s recommendation to apply for Phase 2 of Washington’s Safe Start recovery plan

Post Date:05/31/2020 11:39 a.m.

TACOMA, Wash.—Pierce County residents made sacrifices to slow the spread of COVID-19. Your hard work helped flatten the curve and made it possible to move toward reopening the local economy.

On  May 31 during a special meeting, the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health voted unanimously to recommend Pierce County apply to move to Phase 2 of the state’s Safe Start Recovery Plan.

Bullhorn: We are applying for phase 2!

During the special meeting, Director of Health Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH, presented data to Board members to show Pierce County’s readiness to safely move to Phase 2. See the presentation in support of the county’s Phase 2 application. The recommendation to move to Phase 2 follows Gov. Inslee’s May 29 announcement of revised criteria for counties.

“Our objectives are to begin to restore our society and local economy while we protect the health of all county residents,” Chen said. “Even as we prepare to move into Phase 2, we need to continue to be cautious and follow state and local public health guidance to prevent a rapid surge of cases in Pierce County,” he said.

The recommendation for Pierce County to move to Phase 2 now goes to the county council for consideration. If the council approves, County Executive Bruce Dammeier would apply to move to Phase 2 to State Secretary of Health John Wiesman. The county council meeting and application submission could happen as early as June 1.

Working toward a safer and healthier community.

Among the state’s revised criteria for counties to move to Phase 2:

  • Have fewer than 25 new cases per 100,000 people for the last 14 days.
  • Test aggressively for infected people.
  • Investigate all cases and trace their contacts.
  • Ask people who are sick to isolate and people who are exposed to quarantine.

Health Department staff are hard at work on these efforts. As of May 30, the county averaged about 11 new cases a day per 100,000 people in the last 14 days. Fifteen staff investigating as many as 30 cases a day. Sixty staff and volunteers are trained. Our goal is 200 who will be ready to investigate 350 cases and 1,400 contacts a day if needed. We have already set up temporary care centers for residents to quarantine or isolate if they need a safe place to do so.

We are in this together: Continue to follow public health guidance.

A move to the Phase 2 would mean relaxed restrictions on businesses, but residents cannot let their guard down on COVID-19. Our position remains precarious. No vaccine exists for COVID-19, which means our community has little immunity. More than 99 percent of the county population has not been infected and therefore lacks immunity.  An outbreak can happen anywhere, anytime.  

Until a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available, residents must continue to:

  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Maintain six feet distance from others.
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public.
  • Stay home if you feel ill.
  • Monitor yourself daily for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Consult with your primary care provider if you have: cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or at least two of these symptoms: fever, chills, shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell.

Everyone has a role to play to protect your health, your family’s health, and the health of the community. Read our Pierce County will act to turn up the dimmer switch blog post to learn about steps to take during Phase 2. Get the latest information on COVID-19 at www.tpchd.org/coronavirus

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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