Anne Nesbit, Special to KP News

The one thing about the fire service that is a constant is that you never know from day to day what will present. The COVID-19 outbreak has proved that point. The KP Fire District has seen all facets of the current situation, but more good than bad.

Despite the additional confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county or the possibility of being overloaded with information, and the anxiety that might be present, people in our community are still coming together to support one another.

People are lending a hand through individual acts and large-scale efforts. The community is feeding children who depend on the schools to eat, teachers are building unity in virtual classrooms, and individuals are supporting the remaining open businesses in any way they can. Some people are using music to bridge the distance the outbreak has imposed. Anything to bring happiness, smiles, and to make connections is essential during this time.

The department is working daily to secure testing capabilities.

As the district public information officer, it’s exciting for me to see our community rally around being prepared and taking care of one another. The district has participated right alongside you. As such, I want to update the community with some information from the district.

COVID-19 Testing

Testing continues to be a challenge for many, including our first responders. The district is working daily to secure testing capabilities for our personnel to minimize any impact on our staffing configurations, and to prevent the potential spread to their families. We are also working with the Tacoma-Pierce County Public Health Department to assist with community testing here on the Key Peninsula. We take our health and safety as seriously as we take yours, and are committed to finding the appropriate testing solution.

As of mid-April, the rate of testing in Pierce County continues to climb while positive test results appear to be leveling off. The number of infected people on the Key Peninsula remains in the single digits for now, including a single fatality. That individual tested negative for the virus when admitted to a Tacoma facility on an unrelated health matter and was somehow exposed at that facility, according to TPCHD, before succumbing to the disease there.

Temporary Continued Care Centers

A temporary care center for people who have tested positive or been exposed to COVID-19 and are unable to quarantine at home opened April 8 in Tacoma at the Holiday Inn on South 84th and Hosmer streets. 

The district has learned that one of the sites considered for a care center on the Key Peninsula was not viable and is no longer being planned. We understand that TPCHD is looking at Gig Harbor for an additional location if needed.

Delayed Tax Collections

The district has planned and continues to prepare for what the impacts will be from deferred revenue. Staff will continue to work on collecting the data needed to analyze the situation and then work with the KP fire commissioners on any adjustments that may be required in the current budget.

It goes without saying that our new status quo feels a bit uncertain. Almost every part of our daily routine here at the district is disrupted. Nonetheless, our community remains strong, your fire district remains prepared to serve, and it is times like these that remind me that every day we share moments where we can all be part of something incredible.

Anne Nesbit is the Key Peninsula Fire Prevention and Public Information Officer at KPFD 16, and a volunteer battalion chief. She can be reached at 253-884-2222.

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