Getting closer

I suspect many of you woke up last Tuesday morning and didn’t feel much different.  The CDC and the Governor had announced changes in masking guidance for those who are fully vaccinated, and Pierce County was moved to Phase 3.  But those of you coming into the office still wore a mask, and if you went grocery shopping you likely were still required to wear a mask. Perhaps you wondered, what’s the big deal about Phase 3?

Good question! Here are some of the differences: restaurants, barbers and salons, and houses of worship can now accommodate 50% of their capacity, and indoor facilities such as theaters, aquariums, concert halls and bowling alleys can also expand the number of people they can serve.  That’s good news for our struggling businesses.

The other very good news is the virus is losing its grip on our community.  The number of COVID cases in Pierce County is declining significantly.  The “14-day rolling average,” which peaked on May 2nd at 205, was down to 151 on May 19th – with a continued downward trajectory!  The even better news is that very few people in our community are having the worst possible outcome from the virus – the “14-day death rate” on May 19th was down to 0.1.

But some things aren’t changing as fast as many would like.  For now, we are still requiring masks in County facilities. Like every employer, we are waiting for further direction from Labor and Industries regarding best practices for employers. That guidance will help shape how we address masks in our facilities. We will get that information out to you as soon as possible.

In the meantime, please compile your COVID-related questions for our next Town Hall on June 2 at noon.  You can submit them anonymously here.

Before I wrap up this week’s blog, I want to thank Planning and Public Works and the United States Coast Guard for allowing me to observe a series of tactical training exercises they conducted last week using our ferry boat. It was fascinating to watch the training in action, and I’m confident that should the need arise that our Coast Guardsmen will be ready!

And our ferry team enjoyed being “protected” by Coast Guard security boats, and then being boarded by another team looking to “retake control” of the ferry from “bad guys.”

I was particularly impressed when Wrangler – their K9 – came in by helicopter.  I think K9 Deputy Dan would have been impressed, too.

As their motto says, Semper Paratus (always prepared)!

Thanks for reading,