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Pierce County looking to move into Phase 2, Inslee’s guidelines ‘unrealistic’

Pierce County's contact tracing team. (Tacoma-Pierce County Public Health)

Numerous Washingtonians of all political backgrounds are sending the message that it’s time to safely reopen the economy, and some are frustrated with the governor’s phased approach. Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier joined the Jason Rantz Show to argue that Gov. Inslee’s guidelines are unrealistic.

“The testing, the number of positive cases that the governor proposes in the current standard, aren’t realistic if you consider kind of long-term in congregate care settings, where are most vulnerable are and we have to have specific strategies to keep them safe,” he said.

“It’s really not fair to characterize all of Pierce County to keep 900,000 people in phase one when there’s about 4,000 people in long-term care facilities.”

Has the county done the math to find out what percentage of folks in Pierce County are specifically represented in these facilities?

“The most recent numbers I have is that about 61% of our deaths are sadly in these kind of facilities. That’s where we’ve got a lot of people who are very vulnerable. … And somewhere over 20-25% of our more recent cases are in those facilities.”

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Since the data appears to be pretty clear as to which demographics are most at risk, Dammeier believes this should be taken into account with policy. So where is the disconnect between his position and the governor’s who says all of his positions are based in data?

“I’ve made the case to the governor’s office that Pierce County is ready to go to phase two and we have increased our testing, we’ve got drive through testing … and despite that increase in dramatic testing, our numbers have gone down sharply.”

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“The people of Pierce County have responded. They’ve been responsible, they are ready to move forward.”

Dammeier says Pierce County has 1,000,000 masks and more on the way that they’re able to distribute to small businesses, nonprofits, and churches, among others. So how does the governor respond when presented this case opening sooner?

“To give the governor a little bit of credit, a lot of the points that we have made, I have seen them respond to. … We argued hard for the resumption of construction, and that came about. We argued hard that we shouldn’t treat the state as one monolithic, and particularly as you restart that you’ve got to look at things at the county level, and that started happening.”

“But the disease has been beaten back enough, and a lot of our county and our community as a whole should be allowed to go to phase two safely and responsibly.”

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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