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It’s up to all of us to help stop the spread of COVID-19—and drive our case numbers down

Recently, we have reported record numbers of COVID-19 cases in Pierce County.  

In April, we believed we had this virus under control enough to reopen elements of business in Pierce County. It will take all of us to bring this virus under control. Instead of asking, “Where is it?” “Who has it?” Ask: “What can I do?” 

All of us are responsible to limit the spread of COVID-19. You don’t want to be the reason someone gets sick, can’t go to work, a business has to close temporarily—or to pass on illness to someone whose elder could get very sick or even die. 

We need everyone to do their part: 

  • Stay close to home. 

  • Wear a mask when you leave home. No shirt, no shoes, no mask? No service. 

  • Limit your interactions to a small circle of friends and family. 

  • Keep gatherings small, and outside if possible where fresh air circulates, and more physical distancing space is available. Stay 6 feet apart from others. 

  • Keep gatherings small, get tested for COVID-19 if you are experiencing symptoms. 

  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you have participated in any large gatherings. 

  • Wash your hands, cover your cough, and keep up your best hygiene and sanitation.  

Why is COVID-19 widespread in Pierce County? 

  • Cases are spread across Pierce County. We see clusters of cases throughout the area. 

  • 22% of the cases are among 20-29 year olds. This age group comprises roughly 14% of the county population. This is our fastest growing age bracket for new cases. 

  • We may be seeing an increase of cases or secondary transmissions resulting from social gatherings over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. 

  • It could also be an increase because of ongoing gatherings of all types since entering Phase 2. 

  • We are also seeing growth in the number of businesses experiencing small numbers of cases; the number of businesses experiencing cases is growing by about 5 to 10 per day. 

Since the end of May to the end of June, our percent positive has more than doubled from around 2% to around 5%. Our target is less than 2%. For the latest data, go to our Safe Start dashboard

The good news is we are not yet seeing a large increase in deaths or hospitalizations. We won’t know for a few more weeks whether this good news will hold. This disease takes a while to recover from. Some don’t. See our data dashboard for our estimated number of recovered COVID-19 cases. 

It’s not about them. It’s about you. 

People are curious about which businesses are seeing cases and where outbreaks are occurring. We learn where people were when they were sick about a week after they were in those places. Then we call the close contacts of the sick person to let them know they may need to isolate or get tested. We contact people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 through our contact tracing efforts. So, if you’re concerned about being exposed to COVID-19, answer your phone if we call you. 

A better question to ask is: “What can I do to make sure I don’t spread COVID-19 to others?” 

We continue to see that COVID-19 affects every geographic area of our community, all age groups and all ethnic groups. Traffic and cellphone mobility are up. This tells us people are going out and about, getting exposed and exposing others. It might be at work, at a social gathering, during recreational settings, in a business, or at a demonstration. COVID-19 can spread anytime and anywhere people gather, even if the infected person does not feel sick. 

We all experience a desire to spend time with our friends. But keep it small—fewer than five people—give people space and wear your face mask. We have seen clusters of dozens of people infected from one house party. Asymptomatic spread and the incubation period of this virus mean you can spread it easily before you know you have it. 

Mask up to stay opened up. 

We can all wear face coverings, limit gatherings, and maintain physical distance from others to drive down case numbers in our communities. We must stop the spread of COVID-19 so we can recover economically. Local businesses and organizations can do their part to follow safety guidelines and public health recommendations. 

It’s important to follow Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start guidelines and monitor employee health, require employees and customers to wear face coverings, and implement physical distancing. 

In our public health role, we rely on businesses to have safety plans in place and make sure they have a COVID-19 safety lead identified in case we need to work with that person in the event a business has a positive case. We can work with you to make sure people get tested, self-isolate if needed, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace. 

Business leaders have a responsibility to ensure their place of business has a COVID-19 safety plan in place and they follow all Safe Start guidelines. In addition, they should urge their employees to take steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 when they are not at work. Employees’ actions outside of work directly correlate to possible disease spread at work. This affects their employer, their colleagues, and the Pierce County economy. 

Remember: Gatherings are the action. What kind makes little difference. 

The increase in cases among younger people are highlighting the importance of limiting gatherings of any kind to five or fewer people outside your household. Check out some ideas for summer fun on our blog

We will continue carefully reviewing the data, and you can follow along on our dashboards. Learn more at tpchd.org/coronavirus