How Pierce County is coping with coronavirus mandates, along with homelessness

Mar 18, 2020, 5:57 PM
Coronavirus vaccine, pierce county...
A sample of coronavirus is tested in a lab. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Governor Jay Inslee announced mandatory closures of restaurants, bars, gyms, salons, movie theaters and so much more, on top of statewide school closures that started this week. At the same time, we’re hearing from President Trump, who has announced the possibility of targeted quarantines.

Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss these decisions and how it’s impacting Pierce County.

“So I think we need to be doing significant things right now,” he said. “I think social distancing is critically important from where we are in Pierce County; we’re kind of further back on the curve of the virus than King and Snohomish county are, and want to make sure that we’re learning from what King and Snohomish county are going through.”

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“The steps being taken do have the opportunity to kind of lessen the impact, flatten the curve for Pierce County and the State of Washington.”

Pierce County has seen approximately 56 cases of coronavirus, including a Puyallup woman who on Wednesday became the first person in the county to die from coronavirus complications. Dammeier said many businesses, including restaurants, were already being hit hard prior to the mandatory closures, so it’s best to keep taking safety precautions.

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“So at this point, I think the key thing that we need to do is focus down, get our social distancing done, get through this and come out the other side,” Dammeier said. “At the same time, we’re working hard to make sure that our other industries are still working, still producing, so the rest of our economy can be healthy to help us all come out the other end of this.”

Coronavirus and homelessness

Dammeier has been vocal about dealing with the homelessness crisis, and there’s an intersection of homelessness and coronavirus, as this is a group that is particularly at risk from a public health standpoint, not only of getting the coronavirus, but for spreading it.

What is being done to address this issue?

Dammeier said Pierce County’s approach to homelessness has been different than that of Seattle and King County.

“[One] of the things that we are doing is we don’t have large, kind of unsanctioned encampments, which I think are always kind of unsanitary squalor, huge public health issues to begin with, and now with the advent of this virus, could be kind of Petri dishes for a lot of people with compromised immune systems getting sick.”

“We’re finding other ways to get people into services and get them to the kind of help that they need, rather than enabling them to live in a situation that is very dangerous for their health.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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How Pierce County is coping with coronavirus mandates, along with homelessness