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What you need to know about the state’s new Roadmap to Recovery.

Earlier this week, Gov. Inslee announced a new plan to guide the COVID-19 response in Washington.

Healthy Washington—Roadmap to Recovery replaces Safe Start as we work together to cross the finish line of the pandemic.

If we want to return to normal life, we must first control the epidemic. We know we can do it because we’ve done it before.

No matter what the Governor calls the state’s reopening plan and how many phases it has, what matters most is the steps we can all take to bring the pandemic under control. We all want to know  when we can open our schools and businesses and return to the lives we enjoy when we work together to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Pierce County. And we can all influence how quickly this happens when we:

These steps are your personal journey on our road to recovery. Please do your part to stay the course.

What Healthy Washington—Roadmap to Recovery means for Pierce County.

The new plan places Pierce County in a region with King and Snohomish Counties for data collection and disease tracking. The state will track four metrics in each region:

  • Two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K population.
  • Two-week rate of new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100K population.
  • ICU occupancy (total: COVID and non-COVID).
  • COVID-19 test positivity rate.

Measuring the region as a whole makes sense. Disease rates and hospitalizations usually move in the same direction at roughly the same rate across our region. As you can see from the metrics, hospital resources are one of our biggest concerns. Pierce County’s hospital systems have facilities in King County, for instance. And many of our residents go to work in King County every day.

Our approach to the pandemic in Pierce County will remain our own. Much of our work already aligns with the other counties in our region. This plan does not place any restrictions on our work to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County.

Washington State Department of Health is responsible to report regional data. The state will update metrics for each region on its Risk Assessment Dashboard every Friday. If the metrics point to a change, the region will move into a new phase—forward or backward—the following Monday.

Two phases of reopening.

The Roadmap to Recovery reduces the number of reopening phases from four to two. When it begins Jan. 11, each of the eight regions will be in Phase 1.

In order to move to Phase 2, we’ll need to see:

  • At least a 10% decrease in our 2-week rate of cases per 100,000 people.
  • At least a 10% decrease in our 2-week rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people.
  • A total ICU occupancy of less than 90%.
  • A test positivity rate of less than 10%.

When we move to Phase 2, you’ll see relaxed restrictions in most areas of your life.

You might remember when we moved from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan last summer, the state required us to submit a lengthy application. Our staff worked quickly, but the application still prolonged the time it took to move closer to normal. We believe the new, simplified system will allow us to progress quickly.

It will also allow the state to move more quickly to protect our residents if trends get worse. Once we’re in Phase 2, the state could move us back to Phase 1 if we don’t continue to see:

  • A decreasing or flat trend in the case rate.
  • A decreasing or flat trend in COVID-19 hospital admissions.
  • Our total ICU occupancy below 90%.
  • Test positivity below 10%.

What you can expect next.

We’ll continue to collect and publish Pierce County data on our website. The data informs our work and provides needed context for our residents. Our staff are working quickly to decide whether we should make any changes in how we report the data. We’ll explain the changes to you if we make any.

We’ll also continue our work, including support of vaccinations in Pierce County. Vaccines are still our best path back to normal life. Thousands of our neighbors have already been vaccinated, and this week the state announced the next tiers of people who will be eligible. Washington Department of Health will unveil a new tool called Phase Finder later this month. It will ask you a series of questions, then tell you if you can get the vaccine. It will also help you schedule an appointment.

We’re still in the midst of the third and largest wave of the pandemic. Disease rates seem to be flattening, but at a very high level. Each of us must continue to do the daily work to protect our families and community:

Learn more about how to protect yourself from COVID-19 at Find more info on the vaccine at And sign up to receive notifications for the Your Reliable Source blog and other messages to stay up to date on the pandemic in Pierce County.

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