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Our data team monitors COVID-19 rates closely in Pierce County. That’s why we know our risk level is decreasing.

UPDATED: 03/14/2022

UPDATE: On March 10, CDC placed Pierce County in the medium risk level.

Last month Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled a tool that tracks community levels of COVID-19 in every county in the United States.

As the lead for our data and surveillance team, my first thought was, “Cool!”

We’ve monitored COVID-19 data closely for more than 2 years in Pierce County, and we know how important this information is for all of us as we make decisions about our daily lives. 

That’s why we work tirelessly to ensure our data is accurate, and that all supporting data systems work effectively.

My second thought when I saw the CDC map was to dive deeper into their numbers to see how they compared with ours.

Ensuring reliable data.

The first thing we noticed about the CDC numbers was that the case numbers were not correct. The Washington State Department of Health is working with CDC to ensure its data is up to date.

As we dug deeper into the data, we also noticed both hospital metrics appeared off. We worked closely with our hospital systems to correct this issue and make sure we have the most accurate and timely data. 

Once these fixes are complete they will reflect our true, medium risk level (below), according the CDC framework. 

We are now in the medium level of community spread for each metric. 

  • Our 7-day case rate is 98.3 per 100,000, through Feb. 23 (below 200 for medium).
  • Our 7-day COVID hospitalization admission rate is 6.3 per 100,000, through March 2 (below 20% for medium).
  • Our 7-day average COVID hospital bed utilization rate is 13.9, from Feb. 24-March 2 (below 15% for medium).   

Learning to live with COVID-19.

This doesn’t mean the risk of COVID-19 is gone in our community, or that the pandemic is over. We are learning to live with COVID-19. As we do so, it is important for all of us to follow the best public health practices for each situation. 

Last week, the federal government announced a new plan to fight COVID-19. The plan emphasizes we manage the disease as a “new normal” and make personal decisions when it comes to safety. Under the new plan, the federal government will:

  • Prevent business and school shutdowns.
  • Protect and treat COVID-19.
  • Prepare for new variants.
  • Increase global vaccine donations.

Much of the new plan relies on additional funding from Congress.

Follow best public health practices.

Our COVID-19 cases, case rates, hospitalizations and outbreaks are declining. State and local mask restrictions will end March 12. We have reasons to celebrate, even as we still have more work to do.

We must continue to improve our vaccination rates to prevent infections and reduce severe illness and death in our community. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. Find your dose today at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture.

For those who choose to wear masks, wear the most protective mask you get and that you will wear consistently.

Wash your hands often and stay home if you are sick. If you are immune compromised, you should check with your healthcare provider about precautions you should take.

Meanwhile, we will continue to monitor all the data available to us and keep you informed. We report case rates Tuesdays, outbreaks Wednesdays and vaccination rates Thursdays. 

Let’s work together to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. You can start by signing up for updates from the Your Reliable Source blog.

What is the COVID-19 risk level in Pierce County? According to our most recent data we are now in the medium level.

UPDATED: 03/14/2022