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COVID-19 case counts continue to climb in Pierce County. ICU Nurse Zac Duris sees the effects on local families and our hospital system.

Zac Duris works as a nurse in the COVID-19 ICU ward at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. He sees the recent spike in COVID-19 cases play out on a daily basis. 

“I’ve been seeing an increase in case counts,” Duris said. “I’ve been seeing more patients come to me who are COVID positive and very sick.” 

Pierce County’s 14-day case rate of COVID-19 per 100,000 for Aug. 11-Aug. 24 is 637.1. The 14-day case rate offers the most reliable look at the disease burden on our area. The case rate and hospitalization rate are the highest since the pandemic began. It’s not just older people who bear the brunt of the disease. In the last two weeks of August, 1 in 5 people in Pierce County diagnosed with COVID-19 were between the ages of 20-29. Younger people have died, including a woman in her 20s from Tacoma. 

Duris’ tells heartbreaking stories. From young, seemingly healthy people dying to families who can’t see their loved ones. 

“What sticks with me is the really ill patients who have families at home who are really concerned about them,” Duris said. “I can take care of critically ill patients with or without COVID. But what COVID has done has made families have to suffer more because they can’t be at their bedsides with their loved ones.”