BONNEY LAKE, WA — The Tacoma – Pierce County Health Department is asking everyone to keep wearing their facial coverings, because the statewide mask mandate is likely going to stick around for the foreseeable future.
The latest update from the health department says mask requirements will “almost certainly” still be in place when winter rolls around. So, they’re urging everyone to buckle up for the long haul, and keep wearing masks to protect the community.
“Wearing a face covering shows you care about the people around you,” writes Jessica Gehle, Division Director for the Office of Environmental Health. “The face covering limits the transmission of droplets that could spread COVID-19. The droplets spread when you talk, laugh, sneeze, sing, or breathe. You could have the virus that causes COVID-19 and not know it.”
Pierce County is also offering free masks for anyone who is having a hard time procuring their own. They can be found at a number of pick-up sites across the county.
There are also a few other easy safety tips everyone can follow to help slow the spread of the virus:
Wash your hands, cover coughs and practice good hygiene.
Keep six feet away from people who are not a part of your household.
Limit gatherings to five or fewer people from outside your home each week.
Stay near your home, travel can spread the virus to other communities.
Get tested if you have participated in any large gatherings.
Get tested if you are a member of the hardest hit communities: Alaska Native, Black, Hawaiian, Latinx, Native American, or Pacific Islander.
The advice comes as Pierce County grapples with rising case counts. On Monday, the county health department reported that the county had seen 574 new coronavirus cases over the past 14 days. That means Pierce County has had 63.6 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents over the last two-week period: more than double the goal of fewer than 25 cases.
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The rising case counts locally first forced the county to put a pause on their application to enter Phase 3. Shortly afterwards, Gov. Inslee announced that he was halting all applications and all movement through the Safe Start plan until at least July 16.
The state has also issued two mandates, one requiring that everyone wear masks while in public spaces, and a second requiring businesses to refuse service to customers who do not wear masks. Despite the restrictions, case counts have continued to climb and Monday the state reported 1,088 new coronavirus cases, the most the state has seen in a single day yet.