PORT ANGELES — Clallam County saw a big uptick in confirmed cases of COVID-19 Friday and Saturday, with a total of 13 new positives reported over the two days.
It is the largest number of new cases reported over a two-period in Clallam County.
Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank blames a “large party” for some of these new positives.
Five new cases were reported Friday and eight more Saturday, giving Clallam County a total of 130 cases since March.
At the same time, Jefferson County reported no new cases Friday or Saturday, continuing a record with five consecutive days with no new cases confirmed.
Jefferson County remains at 54 total cases, but county officials are keeping an eye on the number of new cases in neighboring Clallam and Kitsap counties.
Unthank said the new Clallam County cases “were almost exclusively in-county contacts.”
“We’re seeing transmission at social gatherings and some transmission between co-workers. We’ve unfortunately seen a large party show up in our contact tracings again,” Unthank said.
After the eight new cases Saturday, there are 28 total active cases in Clallam County with 102 patients listed as recovered. In Jefferson County, there are nine active cases with 45 listed as recovered.
Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke was concerned about the number of new cases not just in Clallam, but in Kitsap, which reported 16 new cases Friday and 13 Saturday.
“That’s worrisome what’s going on in Clallam and Kitsap,” Locke said. “It will be hard to not spill over to Jefferson.”
Locke thinks one reason Jefferson County’s numbers remain so low is that people in Jefferson County have been pretty vigilant about masking and social distancing, though he stresses there’s always room for improvement.
He said the older population in Jefferson County, one of the most vulnerable demographics to the virus, is being careful.
“The overwhelmingly majority of people are taking it seriously. Jefferson County is one of the oldest counties in the state,” he said.
“The people who are not taking this seriously, we have to change their minds,” he said. “Nationally, there’s a lot of mixed messages and not everyone is listening to the science.”
Locke said one bit of good news this week is that the eruption of cases in Eastern Washington has slowed down. Yakima at one point in July was reporting 200 to 300 new cases a day. It now is down to fewer than 100 new cases a day.
“They really got serious and pulled together in Yakima,” Locke said.
Clallam Friday update
Unthank gave a video update Friday when the number of positive test results were at 122. She said the current rate of infection in Clallam County is 34 per 100,000 (this counts positives in the past 14 days). That was after the five new cases Friday and before the eight new positives Saturday.
Unthank said this puts Clallam County in the state’s “moderate risk” category, though she stressed that this could change.
Low risk is lower than 25 cases per 100,000 over 14 days. Jefferson County is in the low-risk category with 12.9 cases per 100,000 in the time period of July 22 to Aug. 5.
The categories were introduced by Gov. Jay Inslee last week as a measurement of how schools should reopen. Counties considered low-risk can afford fewer restrictions than those in the moderate-risk or high-risk categories.
Unthank talked about schools reopening. She said the county has been working heavily with school districts over the past few weeks, with each district developing its own plans.
“The specifics for which grades will be open for in-person instruction will be up to the school districts,” she said.
“There has been a ton of planning going into how to do schools,” she added.
Some changes that students can expect to see are smaller class sizes with desks kept six feet apart and universal masking of students and staff. Students from different classes will not mix.
Unthank warned that one thing Clallam County has been seeing is people returning to work when they’re not feeling well. People have been urged not to return to work if they feel sick.
“We’re seeing people going to work again sick. That has to stop,” Unthank said. “[Managers] have to let people know you don’t want them to come to work sick.”
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be reached at email@example.com.