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Pierce County official warns rise in coronavirus cases could set county back

'We have cases in every corner of Pierce County,' says the county health officer. If the trend continues, Pierce County risks going from Phase 2 back to Phase 1.

TACOMA, Wash. — When Pierce County applied for Phase 2 in early June, its total cases over two weeks was 16 per 100,000 residents. But as of Thursday, that rose to 34.6 per 100,000, said Dr. Anthony Chen of the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department.

It's one key metric in the state's reopening plans is the rolling average of cases per 100,000 people. For this measure, 25 or fewer cases per 100,000 is good. 

The trend in Pierce County is worrisome, Chen said. 

What he fears is what's happening in states like Texas, where the number of rising cases have caused officials to pause the reopening process.

The "Safe Start Washington" protocols allow for counties to go back to more restrictive phases if the case counts swell.

"Whether or not we get pulled back, and I'm hoping we don't, we don't think we're quite ready to go all the way to Phase 3," Chen said.

He also declined to put the blame on any particular activity, saying that protests and nursing homes are not solely to blame.

"We have cases in every corner of Pierce County," he said.

However, he also said that Pierce County residents can still work hard on decreasing the number of cases by continuing social distancing measures.

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