Clallam cases push county back into moderate-risk status

Health officials concerned with rise in hospitalizations

Clallam County confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, moving the county into the low end of the state’s moderate-risk category.

The county’s case rate increased to 26 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks, while Jefferson County’s case rate was updated to about 22 per 100,000 for the same time period.

The state’s moderate-risk category encompasses counties with case rates between 26 and 74 per 100,000 for a two-week period.

Jefferson County confirmed one new case on Monday, said Dr. Tom Locke, the county health officer.

Out-of-county travel has been the primary driver for many of the new cases in Clallam County, said Dr. Allison Unthank, the county health officer.

“This is a good reminder that we in Clallam County have been doing quite well,” Unthank said. “Among the many things we can do to stay keeping our numbers low is to not only physical distance, wear masks and keep group sizes small, but to limit any unnecessary travel as much as possible.”

That state is in what is described as a third wave of infections with rising case numbers but not to the level that some Midwestern states are seeing, Locke said during his Monday briefing with the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners.

Locke said what’s particularly concerning is the state has seen a 20 percent rise in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 during the past month.

“If we stop what we’re doing, the medical surge will be unimaginable,” he said.

Locke explained if hospitalization rates continue to climb, it wouldn’t be surprising if hospitals begin to scale back and delay elective surgeries, if needed, to preserve bed capacity.

Both Clallam and Jefferson counties continue to be in Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan, and with the rising case numbers statewide, Locke said he doesn’t expect there to be any significant change in that status, although Inslee has been phasing in modified versions of Phase 3 activities to Phase 2 counties, such as allowing libraries and movie theaters to open at limited capacities.

Clallam County has confirmed 279 cases of COVID-19 since March, with 17 active cases — three of which are currently hospitalized — and one death, Unthank said.

Jefferson County has confirmed 87 cases of COVID-19 since March, with 14 active cases and no deaths, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.

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

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