Pierce County likely to return to Phase 2

TACOMA, Wash. — On Monday, the state will review the metrics and announce which counties will roll back from Phase 3 to Phase 2.

To stay in Phase 3, larger counties need to have fewer than 200 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period. When it comes to hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, they must have fewer than five new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents within a seven-day period. If a county doesn’t meet either metric, its phase will be rolled back.

Several western Washington counties are already above that benchmark. In western Washington, Pierce, Cowlitz and Kittitas are over the threshold, according to state data.

According to state numbers, Pierce County sits at 238 per 100,000 residents, but Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department data puts them at 195.

KIRO 7 asked why the numbers don’t match.

“The state defines their metric, cases per 100,000 as both confirmed and probable cases, and they don’t include a six-day lag,” said Cindan Gizzi, deputy director of the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department. “This is an open live data set, and cases often change residency. We’ll find out a few days into the investigation someone is a resident of a different county, so we’ll reassign that case to that county.”

With rates climbing in Pierce County, both sets of data make it appear likely the county will roll back to Phase 2.

The governor will announce which counties will roll back Monday, and the change will take place Friday.

It will be three more weeks before the state will reevaluate where the counties stand. Gizzi would like to see it happen sooner.

“We would love for the state to re-evaluate Pierce County in one week, two weeks, every week, so if we do have to go back to Phase 2, we could quickly move back to phase 3 when we meet those metrics,” Gizzi said.

Public Health Seattle & King County reported 183 cases per 100,000 residents, but the state has them at 164. Snohomish County Health Department data indicated there are 121 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, while the state lists them at 118.

With COVID-19 cases rising, it is possible those counties could be rolled back too.