Case rate decrease hitting plateau

One death in both Peninsula counties

Both Clallam and Jefferson counties reported one new death due to COVID-19, raising the total number on the North Olympic Peninsula to 67 deaths since the pandemic began.

The Jefferson County resident was a woman in her 60s who was unvaccinated, and the death in Clallam County was a man in his 50s who was unvaccinated, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties.

The deaths increased to a total of 16 in Jefferson County and 51 in Clallam County since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.

Meanwhile, Clallam County added 38 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and Jefferson County added five new cases, public health data said.

Clallam County has confirmed a total of 4,283 cases since the pandemic began. Jefferson County has confirmed 1,005 cases.

Clallam County’s case rate continued to decrease on Friday, with the county recording 637 cases per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Friday. The county reported 691 cases per 100,000 on Thursday, public health data said.

Jefferson County reports its case rate weekly. Its new case rate will be calculated on Monday.

Neither county updates its data on weekends.

“Certainly we’re in a much better place than we were a few weeks ago, but certainly 637 cases per 100,000 is far too many,” Berry said during her Friday briefing. “That’s still significant transmission and puts us at risk for the same kind of hospitalization challenges that we had before.”

While the case rate did decrease Friday in Clallam County, health officials are starting to see a plateau, primarily driven by significant transmission in the West End and a smaller rise in Sequim, Berry said.

The West End transmission is being partially driven by the Clallam Bay Corrections Center outbreak that has had 162 confirmed cases — with 107 inmates and 55 staff infected — and is spreading into the community as infected staff members head home and the prison continues to allow visitors, who are also getting infected with COVID-19, Berry said.

“We’re seeing folks go into the prison and then bringing it back,” Berry said. The West End “is a very small and tight-knit community, and we want to do what we can to protect them.”

Berry continues to urge all residents 12 and older to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible. The Pfizer vaccine may be approved for youth ages 5 to 11 by the end of October or early November, Berry said.

According to the latest data from the state Department of Health, 79.1 percent of the population 12 and older in Jefferson County have started vaccinations, with 75.3 percent fully vaccinated. Of the entire population, 72.7 percent have begun vaccination, and 69.2 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

In Clallam County, 71.9 percent of the population 12 and older have started vaccinations, with 66.4 percent fully vaccinated. Of the total population, 63.8 percent have begun vaccinations, with 59 percent fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

Since the beginning of February in Clallam County, 17.7 percent of new reported cases have been among fully vaccinated residents, meaning 82.3 percent of reported cases have been among unvaccinated residents, according to county data.

During the same time period in Jefferson County, 25.79 percent of new reported cases have been among fully vaccinated residents, meaning 74.21 percent of reported cases have been among unvaccinated residents, according to county data.

Both counties have booster dose clinics planned this month for high-risk eligible residents who received the Pfizer vaccine.

At least six months after completing the primary Pfizer vaccine series, people 65 and older, those 18 and older living in a long-term care setting, and those 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions or at increased risk of social inequities could receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine, officials said.

Additionally, people ages 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions and those 18 to 64 who are at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their occupational or institutional setting — and who completed a Pfizer vaccine series at least six months ago — may receive a Pfizer booster dose, officials said.

Eligible Jefferson County residents can sign up to receive a booster shot through the Jefferson County Public Health website, https://jeffersoncountypublichealth.org/1429/COVID-19, or by calling 360-344-9791.

The Pfizer booster vaccination clinics will be conducted from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on three consecutive Saturdays in October.

They are:

• Oct. 9, Chimacum School District multi-purpose building, 91 W. Valley Road.

• Oct. 16, Blue Heron Middle School, 3939 San Juan Ave., Port Townsend.

• Oct. 23, Quilcene School, 294715 U.S. Highway 101, Quilcene.

Vaccination cards should be taken to appointments.

Clallam County emergency management and public health departments have booster dose clinics scheduled for Oct. 16 and Oct. 17. However, appointments for Oct. 17 won’t open until the previous day’s appointments are full.

The clinics will be at Port Angeles High School and signups will be on the Clallam County website, www.clallam.net/Coronavirus. Those without internet access can call the county Department of Emergency Management at 360-417-2430 for assistance.

________

Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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