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As schools open and daycare outbreaks grow, we can protect each other’s families.

My son Charlie is a pandemic baby if ever there was one.

One Monday in March 2020, my wife and I learned she was pregnant.

The Health Department had just reported Pierce County’s first case of COVID-19. I was working at the Pierce County Emergency Operations Center alongside people from other local agencies. My wife, who also works for the Health Department, soon moved from her job as a food inspector to help supervise our case and contact investigation team.

It was a terrifying, exhausting year, but also an exciting one. We were preparing for Charlie even as we lived and worked through the pandemic. If you saw our blogs, data or graphics on social media, I probably had a hand in it. If you got COVID-19 last year and got a call from us, it might’ve been my wife.

We both worked very hard, hoping we could help defeat the virus before we sent Charlie out into the world.

Sadly, it didn’t work. Now, we and other parents across Pierce County need your help.

Childcare outbreaks skyrocket in Pierce County.

Thanks in large part to the Delta variant and our too-low vaccination rate, we’re stuck in a bad place. Our case rate is the highest it’s ever been. So is our hospitalization rate, with officials warning of “enormous stress” on the hospital system.

Kids are at less risk of death and hospitalization than older people. But every parent knows we think about risks to our children a little differently. And the Delta variant is hitting them harder.

Charlie was born in November and started daycare last month. As we sent him off for the first time, we watched outbreaks at Pierce County childcare facilities skyrocket by 285% from late July to late August.

My wife and I have no choice but to take a deep breath and hope for the best. At the Health Department, we work closely with schools to make the return to classrooms safe, but parents of older kids are feeling the same as they send their kids back.

Many parents have already faced the “best case” scenario, scrambling to work and watch their kids while an outbreak closes their childcare. Many others have watched their children get sick—in some cases, very sick.

In the last 2 weeks, 9% of Pierce County cases were in children under 10 and 21% in people under 20—that is about 1 in 5. Since July 1, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital has seen an increase in emergency room and urgent care visits for COVID-19. And this week, Seattle Children’s announced its first patient death from COVID-19.

Even if you’re not worried about yourself, you can still protect others.

I’ve worried a little about my own risk during the pandemic. I’ve worried a lot more about the risk for others. First, my wife was vulnerable when she was pregnant. Now, my unvaccinated baby boy is crawling around.

My wife’s work on the investigation team taught us we’re all links in a chain. She and that team have talked to tens of thousands of residents just as they find out they’re sick. Those folks often immediately realize they’ve put others at risk. 

I think a lot about how I’d feel if I gave COVID-19 to someone who was pregnant. Or to a child, including my own. Or an older person. What if I give it to the nice lady who cuts my hair and she spread it to her clients?

What if I’m the reason someone goes to the hospital? How would I feel if they died?

You can help us out of this.

The best way to protect kids and others at risk is to slow community spread of the virus. And the best ways to do that are to get vaccinated, wear a mask and physically distance from people you don’t live with.

I’m not an expert on vaccines or epidemiology, but I work with very smart people who are. They all got the vaccine as soon as they could, so I felt confident it was safe.

I got vaccinated and I certainly do simple things like wear a mask and stay home when I’m sick.

Protecting my family and yours matters to me. And I’m asking for your help to protect mine:

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