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Gov. halts breakup of Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

December 15, 2020 GMT

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee has stopped an effort to dissolve the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department by signing a proclamation Monday that pauses the termination of health departments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This proclamation puts a pause, in effect, on efforts to terminate a health district or a city-county health department, such as what is currently taking place in Pierce County,” Inslee said at a news conference.

Members of the Pierce County Council proposed earlier this month to end the decades-long partnership between the county and the City of Tacoma. That plan was met with concern and requests to reconsider, but the council voted to move forward and was scheduled to make a final vote Tuesday, KNKX reported.

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The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department released a statement Monday, thanking those who have advocated for the agency “remaining an independent, neutral, public health department.”

“His (Inslee’s) action to place a pause on any change to the governance structure of a joint city-county health department or district means we can put all of our attention on saving lives, educating people about how to prevent COVID-19, and supporting Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan,” the statement said. ”We will continue to stay focused on COVID-19 no matter what.”