PUYALLUP, WA – Despite much speculation that the omicron COVID-19 wave in winter – the last and biggest wave of COVID-19 infections – would be the last wave of the pandemic, it is starting to look like a new wave is on the horizon.
And for Pierce County, he may already be there.
Rising case counts and hospitalization rates for COVID-19 prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday to move Pierce County into its “medium” COVID-19 community level. According to the latest update from the Department of Health, Pierce County is now seeing more than 200 cases per 100,000 population.
“We haven’t seen our case rate this high since early February as we came down from the Omicron wave,” the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department wrote.. “In mid-March, our 7-day case rate dropped to nearly 30 per 100,000. Since then, we’ve seen a steady increase.”
Pierce County isn’t alone in seeing higher case numbers. Statewide case counts have quadrupled in the past two months, and other large counties like Snohomish County and King County have also recently been pushed back into the middle bracket.
So what does this mean for residents of Pierce County?
At the political level: practically nothing. The CDC won’t enforce any new lockdowns or mandates, Pierce County leaders haven’t teased any new restrictions, and Governor Jay Inslee recently reaffirmed there are no plans to reimpose the mask mandate on the statewide or other COVID-19 protocol.
However, local health experts are urging everyone to use good judgment and proceed with caution.
“We’re way off our peak levels during the Omicron surge over the winter, but we’re more than halfway to our Delta case rate peak in August,” Wilson said.
The “medium” COVID-19 community level might not seem like a panic button-worthy moment, and it’s significantly lower than the “high” community risk level, but keep in mind that in February, the CDC has revamped its risk assessment program, raising the threshold before communities are considered high or medium risk dramatically.
In other words, “medium” is the old “high,” and health officials are asking everyone to act wisely.
“Consider wearing a mask in public,” Wilson said. “If you are at high risk for serious illness, you should ask your health care provider if you should wear a mask or take other measures.”
At the medium risk level, the CDC urges residents to get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19, and urges extra caution for immunocompromised people or anyone at high risk for COVID-19.
For everyone else, the same old COVID-19 advice applies: