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COVID-19 has affected all of us. Together, we continue to respond.

The first reported case of COVID-19 in the United States was identified in Western Washington on Jan. 20, 2020. The next day, we activated a response team and got right to work thanks to planning we’d started earlier that month.

Three years later, we know a lot more about this deadly disease and how to keep our community safe. 

As we look to the future and how we will continue to respond to COVID-19, we acknowledge COVID’s tremendous toll on all of us. This pandemic deeply affected every aspect of our lives. It has changed all of us, and we know now more than ever that we need to work together to improve our community’s health.

Devastating toll of COVID

Too many of us are grieving lost loved ones. More than 1,500 Pierce County residents have died of COVID-19.

We know COVID-19 disproportionally affects people with adverse social, economic and environmental conditions. Because of structural racism and other factors, that burden has been felt most often by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in our community. 

Even before COVID-19 arrived, we worked every day to help make health outcomes more equitable. During the pandemic, that’s meant being in the community, partnering with organizations that serve marginalized populations. We want to ensure everyone has access to the same life-saving resources—and close the gaps some experience.

That work will continue. We are building on the community engagement efforts we started for COVID-19 and bringing that approach to all areas of public health. That means we show up for the community wherever we can and support others who do the same.

Unprecedented response

These past 3 years we’ve faced a global health crisis unlike any other in our lifetimes. We’ve lost far too many. We’ve also saved lives. With your help, we have protected families, friends and neighbors. 

Washington had one of the lowest death rates from COVID-19 in the country

In Pierce County, we:

  • Investigated tens of thousands of cases and outbreaks to help prevent transmission.
  • Supported more than 1.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered to residents.
  • Conducted hundreds of testing and vaccination clinics, from drive-through sites at the Tacoma Dome to vaccinating home-bound folks. 
  • Distributed more than 450,000 test kits.
  • Adjusted our response to meet the needs of our community, time and time again.

We’ve adjusted to surges and prepared for the unexpected.

Now, as we learn to live with COVID-19, we pursue our response and recovery work alongside our other public health responsibilities.

New challenges

As COVID-19 continues to spread, so do other respiratory illnesses. We saw a sharp increase this fall and winter in influenza and respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV).

The combination of all 3 diseases circulating in our community contributed to record absenteeism at local schools and loss of work for many employees.

A new omicron subvariant, XBB.1.5, is gaining traction in the eastern part of the U.S.

Our local wastewater data recently showed a spike in COVID-19. Our case dashboard also showed a moderate increase over the holiday season, with the highest transmission in people over 80.

Thankfully, flu activity and the spread of respiratory illnesses has slowed in recent weeks. But if we’ve learned anything the past 3 years, it’s that we need to stay prepared.

Safe practices can help

We know what works.

You can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases by:

  • Wearing a mask indoors around others, especially those most vulnerable.
  • Staying home when you are sick.
  • Getting a flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine and booster.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing frequently.
  • Washing your hands often.

Taking these precautions will protect you and those around you, and it will help keep us safe at work and school.

Even better, taking precautions like these will help keep you from getting sick and allow you more time to do the things you love, like:

  • Dining out.
  • Traveling.
  • Going to a play or a movie.
  • Hanging out with friends.

Learn more at tpchd.org/safepractices, and find your dose of COVID-19 vaccine today at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture.

Find tools to keep you and your family’s home safe at tpchd.org/healthyhomes.

You can also sign up for blog updates and other notifications and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to get our latest reliable information about respiratory infections and other important public health topics.

Family Registering To Receive The Vaccine