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New wave of COVID-19 cases is cause for concern, especially if you’re not vaccinated.

After months of good news, a new wave of COVID-19 cases is driving rates higher in Pierce County.

In 3 weeks our:

  • 14-day case rate per 100,000 more than doubled from 61.2 to 131.1.
  • 7-day average cases per day more than tripled from 34 to 102.

What’s causing these increases? The state reopening on June 30, the Fourth of July holiday, and the increase of the Delta variant—which spreads more easily than other variants—are likely the cause. Data shows the Delta variant likely makes up most of the cases in the county and the state.

The uptick in cases led our Director of Health Dr. Chen and other local health officers to recommend you wear facial coverings indoors in public where the vaccination status of those around you is not known.

We’re also seeing our rate of positive tests increasing. In a July 21 report, we found two census tracts had 15-20% or more positive tests between June 27 and July 17. Between June 13 and July 3 there had been zero tracts at that rate. And 14 census tracts had 10-15% positive rate when there had been 1 tract with that rate.

Most of these census tracts are in areas of low vaccination rates.

Better news for the vaccinated.

Despite all that bad news, we have good news if you’re fully vaccinated. Only a tiny percentage of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among vaccinated people. This week, the Department of Health reported between February and June 2021:

  • 97.4% of COVID-19 cases were in those not fully vaccinated
  • 96% of hospitalizations among COVID-19 cases were in those not fully vaccinated
  • 94.3% of deaths related to COVID-19 were in those not fully vaccinated

We’re seeing similar data locally. Our records suggest less than 2% of COVID-19 deaths in Pierce County were fully vaccinated prior to infection. And from June 6-July 15, none of the 149 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Pierce County were known to be vaccinated. Most were known to be unvaccinated, and the status of a few of them was unknown. 

Most of the areas where we’re seeing more cases have low vaccination rates.

Bottom line: COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in protecting you from the virus and greatly reduces your chances of serious illness.

Words of experience.

At a time when vaccinations are slowing and only 46.6% of Pierce County is fully vaccinated, local healthcare workers and physicians are urging everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine.

Jeff Boulet, a physician assistant from Lake Tapps who still suffers from the effects of a bout with COVID-19 last year, has had many conversations with patients who were on the fence about the vaccine.

“I say, ‘Let’s take politics out of this. Let’s take the media out of this. This is a scientific issue. This virus doesn’t care who you voted for. It doesn’t care about politics,’” he said.

“I had a patient die [after] I had this conversation with him,” Boulet said. “He chose not to get the vaccine. That’s the kind of sad stories you hear that really hit home.”

Dr. Neena Chawla has had the same conversations with some of her patients. She always touts the vaccine’s safety

“The vaccine is way safer than the infection,” she said. “We have a vaccine that is safe. We know prevention is better than cure. Please encourage your loved ones, your family, and friends to go get the vaccine.”

The best way to help reverse the latest trend is to get vaccinated.

Find your dose.

Everyone 12 and older is eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. You can register online or just drop in at any clinic and get vaccinated without an appointment. Find your dose at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture

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., 7 days a week.

The pandemic is still with us. Your role to stop the spread of COVID-19 remains critical:

  • Wear your mask.
  • If you’re sick, stay home.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Get tested if you experience symptoms or were exposed.