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A week of good news brings more hope about ending the pandemic

Your turn to get vaccinated may happen sooner!

We see it in your faces at COVID-19 vaccination events. We hear it in your voices when you contact our Call Center for help scheduling vaccination appointments. We read it in your social media comments about what you want to do once you get vaccinated—hug loved ones, go to a movie, see a concert, and travel.

As we transition from winter to spring, signs of hope are sprouting up all around us just like spring blossoms.

The availability of more vaccine in Pierce County is a good news story! This week, we reached 218,000 Pierce County residents with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That’s more than 80 percent of the estimated number of Pierce County residents eligible under the current phases. Now we know more of you can get vaccinated sooner than expected. It’s cause for celebration!

Fast forward to the next tier.

As vaccine supplies increase, it’s gotten easier for people to find appointments. Last month, it would take minutes to fill appointments for one of our community vaccine events. This week, it took 10 hours.

So, we weren’t surprised when Gov. Inslee moved up the date to start Phase 1B Tier 2. The original date was March 22, and now it’s March 17. Thousands more of you will be eligible for vaccination. Eligibility will expand to include:

  • Grocery store workers.
  • Public transit employees.
  • Law enforcement, firefighters, and other first responders not previously eligible.
  • Corrections, prison, jail, and detention center officers.
  • Food processing workers.
  • People 16 years or older who are pregnant or live with a disability or condition that puts them at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness.

That’s great news for the estimated 14,000 of you in Pierce County. People eligible in the current phases can continue to get vaccinated. And it’s great news for all of us as we get closer to community immunity. 

These new groups will be added into Find Your Phase tool, where you can check your eligibility.

Another big step along the Roadmap to Recovery.

On the same day Gov. Inslee moved up the timetable to start Phase 1B Tier 2, he also announced plans to move Pierce County and the rest of Washington into Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington–Roadmap to Recovery plan.

The relaxed restrictions include:

  • Pierce County restaurants can open with 50 percent indoor dining capacity.
  • Movie theaters, gyms can increase to 50 percent capacity.
  • Fans will be able to attend professional and amateur sports event, including high schools, capacity is capped at 25 percent.
  • More sports will restart games for Pierce County students.

Again, this was not a surprise. Our case rate per 100,000 dropped 124 points–from 268 to 153—between Feb. 11 and March 11.

It’s a tribute to your hard work to wear masks, remain physically distant, wash your hands, and keep your gatherings small and safe.

These relaxed restrictions are great news for local businesses and get us closer to putting the pandemic behind us.

Guidance for fully vaccinated people.

On Monday, CDC updated guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated. Under the guidelines, vaccinated people can:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.

While it’s only a first step, this gives us another glimpse of what’s soon in store for all of us.

We still have work to do.

While restrictions are relaxed, your vigilance should not be. Any slip in our Roadmap to Recovery metrics will send us back to Phase 2. And the CDC warns that fully vaccinated people should continue to follow recommended guidelines in public settings, including wearing masks.

Let’s keep hope front and center. Let’s keep the good news coming. Let’s keep doing what got us this far:

Learn more at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture

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