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Data show COVID-19 could be among top causes of death.

People in all ethnic groups, female and male, as well as young and old, die from COVID-19. To date, 164 Pierce County residents have died from the disease.

This disease is greater risk to people with one or more underlying health conditions. Most COVID-19 deaths in Pierce County are in people 75 or older. But, almost half of people 18 and older have an underlying health condition. Thanks to medications, many of those underlying conditions wouldn’t normally be fatal. But COVID-19 is a threat to everybody.

While more older people die from COVID-19, it can be fatal for young people, too. In early August, a person younger than 20 died in Pierce County. He had no reported underlying health conditions. He was the youngest Washingtonian to die from COVID-19 at the time. This month, a 22-year-old died of COVID. She had underlying health conditions.

Too many deaths.

For the months of April and August, we expect COVID-19 to be the third most common cause of death in our county, compared to data through 2018. More recent data are not available yet. COVID-19 appears to be responsible for more deaths than strokes, Alzheimer’s, accidents, diabetes, or suicides. This is true both when most COVID-19 cases are in older people, like in April, or like in August when most COVID-19 cases were in younger people. We won’t know for certain until next year.

We expect COVID-19 will be among the top 10 causes of death in the county this year. Nationally, we expect COVID-19 to be the third largest cause of death in 2020.

COVID-19 kills about a quarter of the people 75 and older who catch it, including many who lived independently. It kills nearly 10% of people 65-74 years old who catch it, people otherwise expected to live another 10-20 years. Those are people, not just numbers, not just conditions. These are dads and moms, grandmothers, and grandfathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. Friends. Legacies cut short. Lives lost.

A fellow staff member offered this reflection:

Every life matters. These folks had stories and dreams and the opportunity lost for us as a community is immeasurable. If they were old, they were our elders and carried our stories and traditions. If they were young, they held the promise of infinite possibilities—of inventions and novels and cures. If they were middle aged, they were old enough to learn from their mistakes and young enough to live differently and leave a legacy if given the time.

I invite you to take a moment and imagine yourself surrounded by the 164 people we have lost to date, to see them in their diversity and their humanity. It is overwhelming. If they had no family to mourn them, we are that family.

—Benjii Bittle, Business Development Manager

Older woman looks down in thought

At Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, we protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. Early deaths are not improved health. If COVID-19 claims a member of your family, a loved one, a friend, or a neighbor, you’re likely to agree: Too many people are dying from COVID-19.

Keep up the good work to keep yourself and your family safe.

Throughout the pandemic, we work hard to bring you the most reliable, accurate, local information as quickly as possible. We continually monitor the spread of diseases threatening the health of our community like COVID-19. It’s up to all of us to do our part to stop its spread.

As fall draws near, we finally see our COVID-19 case numbers dropping in Pierce County. Let’s keep doing the things that will drive those numbers lower:

Learn more about COVID-19 at tpchd.org/coronavirus