Long Overdue Public Health Funding for COVID-19 Response Approved by County Executive

After weeks of delays, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier seems to have finally approved funding for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s public health response to the COVID-19 emergency.

You may recall that I’ve repeatedly expressed my concern that the cost of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic far exceeded the department’s normal capacity, and that refusing to pay for necessary expenses undermined our ability to protect the public.

The new funding will pay for staff costs, expanded testing and lab capacity throughout the county, increased data management and analytical capacity, as well as disease investigation and contact tracing. Some of the funds were approved the afternoon before our Phase 2 application, indicating it was a condition for the Governor’s approval.

The argument for granting the Executive broad discretion over the use of CARES Act funding was to increase speed and flexibility. That backfired and meant health department staff wasted scarce time trying to get paid for vital services.

I hope this approval means smoother sailing moving forward.

Pierce County Councilmember. Serving Gig Harbor, Fox Island, Key Peninsula, Ruston, and parts of North and West Tacoma.