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Director of Health Dr. Anthony Chen will remove health order to align with state mask requirements.

FEB. 28 UPDATE:

Dr. Anthony L-T Chen will lift his health order and no longer require masks in most indoor public settings on March 12. This update will align Pierce County with state guidance announced Monday. Local COVID-19 cases, case rates, and hospitalizations are falling. Our data shows this trend should continue. We will continue to monitor local data and be prepared to adjust as needed.

While no longer required, face masks help prevent the spread of disease. Many in our community will choose to continue to wear masks to protect the health of themselves and those around them. We encourage everyone to respect the decisions of those around you, and to follow the best public health practices for you and your family.

As we learn to live with COVID-19, 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.

ORIGINAL POST:

Dr. Anthony L-T Chen, Director of Health for Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, will rescind his health order so masks will no longer be required in most indoor public settings in Pierce County beginning March 21. This aligns with state guidance announced Thursday.

Our cases, case rates, and hospitalizations are falling, although they are still high. We will continue to monitor local data and be prepared to adjust as needed as we learn to live with COVID-19. We are glad that projections cited by the Governor anticipate that by March 21 we will reach the levels that public health officials feel are appropriate.

“The pandemic is not over,” Dr. Chen said. “Please use the best tools available to help protect yourself, your family, and our community from COVID-19 in every situation. Our progress is because of our layered approach. If we remove one layer, we must improve the others. If you have not yet, get vaccinated today.”

The state will still require masks in healthcare settings like hospitals, outpatient and dental offices, long term care facilities, and other congregate settings. Federal law still requires masks in certain settings such as public transportation. Washington State Department of Health also recommends you continue to wear masks in crowded spaces.

We remain committed to keeping our schools open and children and staff safe. While the mandate will end, we continue to recommend that students and staff wear masks in schools until outbreaks decline and vaccination rates improve. We reported 32 outbreaks in schools this week, with 90% of classroom outbreaks in elementary schools where just 19% of children ages 5-11 have been fully vaccinated.

We have heard concerns about student and school staff mental health and wellbeing. We share those concerns. We also remain focused on helping schools address the educational and social needs of students as well as protecting the community’s health. The state will release new guidance March 7 for schools. We will work with Pierce County districts and schools to help them implement and communicate those changes.

COVID-19 will be with us for some time. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from serious illness, winding up in the hospital—and death. Find your dose today at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture.

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 in order to protect public health. We are one of only 163 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 www.tpchd.org.

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