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Health officer recommends applying for modified Phase 2 of state’s Safe Start Washington plan.

TACOMA, Wash. — Pierce County residents’ efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 are on the right track. But we have more to do before our county is ready to apply for Phase 3 of the governor’s Safe Start Washington plan. Instead, we will propose an expansion of Phase 2 while we continue to work to be ready to apply for Phase 3.

Director of Health Dr. Anthony L-T Chen will bring the recommendation to the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health at its regular meeting July 1. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has increased testing and contact tracing capacity to limit spread of COVID-19 in our communities. But the daily case count has been trending upward, which is worrisome to health officials.

“We do not want to rush to open when we continue to see an increase in COVID-19,” Director Chen said. “Pierce County residents have remained strong and have stuck together so we can move through these phases of re-opening. Proposing an expanded Phase 2 is the right choice for our health and the right choice for our society and economy,” he said.

The expanded Phase 2 proposal, if approved, would permit larger outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people for social and recreational purposes. It would not allow recreational activities such as team sports and public swimming pools where respiratory droplets are highly likely to be released.

A modified Phase 2 would limit indoor gatherings to 5 people per week outside the household. Libraries and museums would be permitted with physical distancing and Phase 3 safety plans. All other businesses and religious services would remain under Phase 2 requirements.

COVID-19 continues to be widespread in Pierce County among all ages, ethnic groups and geographies. The modified approach will help to limit the spread of disease while easing some restrictions. More people are getting tested for COVID-19, which helps to identify the spread of disease in the community. The overall rate of positive tests is on the rise, from 2.2% May 17-23 to an estimated 3.2% as of June 14-20.

“If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms or think you may have been exposed, or have attended a social gathering or large gathering, please seek testing,” said Chen.

Find testing sites near you at

Starting today, the state requires all Washingtonians to wear masks while in public places. Masks help to protect you and those around you. More people wearing face coverings will help to stop the spread of COVID-19 and improve our progress to be ready for Phase 3.

“Pierce County has learned much about how to care for one another,” said Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health Chair Catherine Ushka. “We still have a long way to go and must ask residents to continue to be vigilant and care for each other. Wearing face coverings is effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. This simple step will help us improve how we care for one another and protect people from getting sick,” said Ushka. “We will continue to fight this disease.”

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department continues to focus on those whom COVID-19 disproportionately affects—Black, Latinx, American Indian, and Pacific Islander communities—to improve the health and resiliency of these communities.

All of us can:

Wear a face covering when in public and not able to stay 6 feet away from others.
Stay close to home.
Interact with a small circle of friends and family.
Keep gatherings small.
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.

Learn more at

View the July 1 Board of Health meeting agenda and meeting packet. If you’d like to comment any time before the meeting ends, email Watch the meeting live on our website, beginning at 3 p.m. July 1.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs, and treatment to protect public health. We are one of roughly 244 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at

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