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Pierce County approved to enter Phase 2 of Washington’s Safe Start Recovery Plan

Modified restrictions set to take effect June 5.
TACOMA, WASH.—Pierce County residents will soon have relaxed restrictions on businesses and other areas of public life. On Friday, June 5, the state secretary of health approved the county to move to Phase 2 of the state’s Safe Start Recovery Plan.

The application process began with a recommendation from Tacoma-Pierce County Director of Health Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH. He recommended to the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health at a special meeting May 31 that the county could safely move to Phase 2 based on the state’s target metrics. The Board unanimously approved the recommendation for the application, which it forwarded to the Pierce County Council. The council approved the recommendation unanimously on June 1. County Executive Bruce Dammeier submitted the application June 2.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting how we work, learn, worship, and play. Every single person in Pierce County is living through one of the most challenging times of our lives,” Chen said. “We are all eager to resume our normal lives. But we must help our society and economy recover while protecting community health, especially our ethnic communities who suffer disproportionately.”

The Equity Action Network has strategies ready for immediate action for four ethnic groups with disproportionate rates of COVID cases: Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, Black, Latinx, and American Indian/Alaska Native. Our Communities of Focus teams will work closely with community members, including in rural areas like Key Peninsula and the White River communities, to make sure CARES funding serves populations countywide.

“Pierce County is safer and ready to take this step,” said Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health Chair Catherine Ushka. “We have seen COVID-19 have greater effects on our communities of color that already face health disparities. We’re committed to providing the necessary resources to them so they can reach their full health potential,” she said.

In Phase 2, businesses like restaurants, barber shops and hair and nail salons, and retail will have relaxed restrictions. See the list of more businesses and details about how they can operate.

Even with the relaxed restrictions, it’s more important than ever to do your part to prevent the spread of disease. Our position remains precarious and an outbreak could happen at any time. We do not want to act in ways that could risk our hard fought progress. Until a vaccine becomes available, continue to:

Wear face coverings when you are in public and especially when you cannot easily keep physical distance from others.

Maintain physical distance of six feet from others .

Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently.

Stay home when you’re sick.

Continue to spend time with family and those you live with.

Choose five friends or non-household members you would also like to see regularly. When you play, eat out, visit, or otherwise socialize, try to limit your close contacts to this group. You can reduce the risk of infection while enjoying more Phase 2 freedom.

Check in with family, friends, and coworkers by phone, social media, or video calls to make sure they are OK and to offer encouragement.

Worship with your community of faith in the modified, allowable ways.

Exercise, eat healthily, and take care of your health issues. Remember that you still need to take medicines, get your children vaccinated, and otherwise keep up with health care.

Continue to stay home as much as possible and limit non-essential travel.

Continue all those healthy hygiene behaviors you have been doing—wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home if you are sick, clean high touch surfaces regularly.

If you are over 65 years old, with medical conditions, or are immune compromised, you may need to continue to stay home. Everyone’s health is different: check with your health care provider.

We expect more protests in our community in the days ahead. We support the need for community members to come together to mourn, process, and heal. We hope protesters stay safe, wear cloth face coverings, and maintain safe physical distance whenever possible.

“We do not want to act in ways that could increase outbreaks, causing us to lose the progress for which we all worked so hard,” said Chen. “We are stronger together and must stick together to move through these phases of re-opening. The right choice for our health is also the right choice for our society and economy. Choose to do what is right and which will keep ourselves, our families and friends, and our community healthy,” he said.

Learn more at

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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