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Cases and hospitalizations rise sharply in Pierce County.

The data is clear: The Omicron variant is bringing more COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to Pierce County.

We have all had a long relationship with COVID. Like you, we would like to bring it to an end.

You don’t need to panic. We don’t yet know how severe Omicron is compared to other variants. Some very early studies suggest it might be milder and we expect to learn more in the coming weeks.

But, this week’s data shows how important it is to continue to take care of yourself, your neighbors and your family.

Case rates on the rise.

Our case rate is now the highest we’ve seen since the pandemic began. And Pierce County recently set a record for positive tests in a day.

We recorded 6,271 cases between Dec. 26-Jan. 4, an average of 895 cases per day. That daily average is higher than our previous single day case record of 553 on Aug. 30. We recorded 4,969 cases the previous week. Our 14-day case rate reached 841.6 for Dec. 12-25, more than 3 times higher than the 274.9 for the same dates in November.

Washington State Department of Health (DOH) projects we could surpass a case rate of 1,400 in the coming weeks, nearly double the previous high of 721.8 we saw this summer.

Hospitalizations also rising.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have nearly tripled since the beginning of December. Our 7-day hospitalization rate reached 16 from Dec. 19-25, up from 5.6 from Nov. 28-Dec. 4. DOH projects Pierce County’s rate could surpass 25 in the coming weeks.

We’re seeing more kids in the hospital, too. From Dec 19-26, the number of Pierce County COVID-19 emergency-room and urgent-care visits for ages 0-17 was nearly double the rate Dec. 5-12. And Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital reports more kids there are hospitalized for COVID-19.

We’re still learning about Omicron. Better news could be on the way.

Omicron variant infections have increased exponentially in the state. DOH estimated Omicron cases went from 9.9% of cases to 46.4% between Dec. 5-18. It predicts that number could now be higher than 95%.

CDC says Omicron’s rapid spread is driven by increases in transmissibility and immune evasion.

In early studies, Omicron appears to be less deadly than other variants. None of the studies have been peer reviewed, but they provide hope a wave of COVID-19 deaths will not follow cases and hospitalizations.

Take care of yourself.

We’ve learned much in the last 2 years, and we have new tools at our disposal. If you recently tested positive or think you might be infected, our nurses have plenty of great advice.

Vaccination, including boosters, are your best defense against severe outcomes. Everyone 16 and older is eligible for a booster, and children 5 and older should start their 2-dose series now.

Find your vaccine today at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture. If you need a ride to an appointment or can’t easily leave your home, we can help! Call us at (253) 649-1412, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

And you can do even more to help stop the spread.

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Case update 1-4a