A Puyallup resident has died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The woman in her 50s is the first reported fatality in Pierce County since the outbreak started.
Officials with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department announced Wednesday that the patient, whose identity hasn't been released, was admitted to MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital on March 6. She had multiple underlying health conditions, according to the agency.
Dr. Anthony Chen, the county’s director of health, said the woman’s death is a “painful reminder” that certain groups of people are more vulnerable to the disease than others. He urged residents to pay special attention to their health and behaviors that could increase the risk of illness.
“If you have diabetes, if you have asthma, if you’re overweight, if you’re smoking or vaping, if you’ve got heart issues,” Chen said, “any of those can make your health condition worse.”
Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier renewed his call for residents to follow orders from public health officials to practice social distancing. He also urged people to check in on their neighbors when possible.
"I would even ask people to go that extra mile to check on their neighbor, think about bringing groceries to that elderly woman who lives down the street," Dammeier said. "Take that time to care for one another."
Dammeier said the woman who died from this respiratory disease was more than a number.
“She was a beloved daughter. She was a mother,” he said. “She was an incredible community volunteer and active in her daughter’s school.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Pierce County officials identified 12 new coronavirus cases — bringing the countywide total to 56. More than 1,100 people have been tested so far, according to the health department’s latest report.
Victoria Woodards spoke during Gov. Jay Inslee’s news conference Wednesday afternoon, during which he announced a statewide moratorium on evictions, urged public utilities to expanded support for ratepayers, and other measures.
Woodards said the Tacoma City Council and the board at Tacoma Public Utilities worked together to approve a $1 million financial package to assist people in the city who won’t be able to pay their utility bills in the coming weeks or months.
“In times like this, people need peace of mind,” Woodards said.
Woodards urged Tacoma residents who need the additional support to sign up for assistance through TPU.
“I’m in this with you. Tacoma’s in this with you. This community is in this with you,” she said.