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We are learning to live with COVID-19. Thankfully, we have 2 years of lessons to lean on.

I have heard people say the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Unfortunately, we know that is not yet true. COVID-19 is with us and will be for some time. Thankfully, we also know what tools work to limit its spread. 

Our case rates, hospitalizations and outbreaks are declining. We are now listed in the low risk community level of CDC’s framework. Nearly 70% of you who are eligible in Pierce County are fully vaccinated. State and local mask restrictions ended in most public indoor settings last week.

We have reasons to celebrate, but we still have work to do.

How did we get here? 

It took all of us. 

First, you applied multiple layers of protection when you: 

  • Practiced physical distancing.
  • Washed your hands.
  • Wore a mask.
  • Got vaccinated. 

Second, it was the incredible work of public health workers in partnership with healthcare workers, community members, and volunteers to: 

  • Track data.
  • Work with people who were sick or exposed.
  • Support our healthcare systems.
  • Help people get tested.
  • Help people get vaccinated.

This work kept our children in school, helped our hospitals function, got businesses back on track, and ensured we could learn to live with COVID-19.

These practices have been invaluable to our response and will continue to be in our recovery.

Masks work.

While no longer required, face masks help prevent the spread of disease. Many of you will choose to continue to wear masks to protect your health and the health of those around you.

The state still requires masks in congregate and healthcare settings like:

  • Hospitals.
  • Outpatient facilities.
  • Dental offices.
  • Long term care settings.
  • Correctional facilities.

Federal law still requires masks in certain settings, like public transportation.

For those who choose to wear masks, wear the most protective mask you can get and that you will wear consistently. The best mask is the one you will wear.

I encourage you to respect the decisions of those around you, and to follow the best public health practices for you and your family.

Vaccines work.

If you choose not to wear a mask in settings where they are no longer required, please make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations. 

Getting vaccinated significantly lowers your chances of getting COVID-19 and lessens the severity of illness if you get it.

We have made great strides to get our community vaccinated, with 69.4% of those eligible fully vaccinated in Pierce County. That has surely helped. But we must do better.

If you have not gotten vaccinated yet, find your dose today at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture.

Everyone 5 and older is eligible, and everyone 12 and older should get boosted.  

Our work continues.

All the work we have done has us on the right track. As always, we will continue to monitor local data and adjust. We cannot forget what got us here. Those best practices will continue to be important: 

You can report positive self-test results to the Department of Health at (800) 525-0127, and they can help answer questions. Care Connect Washington can help provide food and other necessities. 

If you are immune compromised or at high risk for COVID-19, you should check with your healthcare provider about precautions you should take.

Respect those around you and the decisions they make.

Despite what some are saying, COVID is not done with us. But your hard work and the community’s precautions have us heading in the right direction. You can stay up to date on our latest information by signing up for the Your Reliable Source blog.

A public health worker counsels a patient at a vaccine clinic.