Clallam County not looking into ‘criminal mandates’ for face masks

Direction would only come from state, health officer says

PORT ANGELES — While Jefferson County has mandated masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and is considering criminal and civil penalties, Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank said she will not recommend a mandate that would include penalties.

Clallam County had no new confirmed cases of the virus this weekend, keeping the county at 33 total with 27 patients listed as recovered.

Unthank said Clallam County dropped from 34 cases to 33 because a recent case turned out to be a false positive.

Over the weekend, Gov. Jay Inslee mandated masks for Yakima County, which is having a COVID-19 outbreak. It had 6,326 confirmed cases in a county of just 250,000 people, according to the state Department of Health.

That means one person out of 39 in Yakima County has been infected with COVID-19. If the same rate of infection was in Clallam County, there would be 1,846 cases in the county.

Inslee has mandated that businesses require their employees to wear masks in most workplaces.

On Monday, Jefferson County received a presentation from Dr. Tom Locke about possible criminal and civil penalties for not wearing a mask. He pointed out that nearby San Juan County did that in May, with possible misdemeanor charges for people failing to wear masks in businesses.

Unthank said she is not recommending those kinds of requirements.

“We’re not looking at criminal mandates,” she said.

Any mandate would be difficult for law enforcement to enforce, Unthank said, and many people legitimately have medical reasons for not being able to wear masks for long periods of time, such as problems with breathing or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Unthank said it is possible Inslee could require a statewide mask mandate at some point if cases in the state start to increase quickly.

“It could happen, especially with how fast cases are rising east of the Cascade mountains,” Unthank said. “What’s going on in Yakima is really dangerous.”

Phase 3

Unthank said she and her staff will be collecting data this week in preparation for the county application to move to Phase 3 of Inslee’s four-part Safe Start plan.

In Phase 3, libraries and museums and more businesses such as gyms can open. Restaurants can increase capacity to 75 percent, and bars can increase capacity to 25 percent.

The Clallam County Board of Health will meet June 30 to consider filing an application with the state for moving to Phase 3. Jefferson County is expected to make a similar application June 29.

In other updated numbers, 3,891 tests have been performed in Clallam County, and 3,822 were negative with 36 pending. Three people have been briefly hospitalized.

No deaths have been reported due to COVID-19 in either Clallam or Jefferson counties.

________

Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be reached by email at plabossiere@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

Ridge ski season opens Saturday

Finally, enough snow falls for winter sports

A gate and concrete barricades block the north end of Towne Road as it reaches the new Dungeness River levee on Tuesday northwest of Sequim. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Residents provide Towne Road feedback

More than 30 express opinions on project

Point Hudson Marina slated to be open today

Port of Port Townsend plans grand opening ceremony on April 24

Firefighters extinguished a fire in an RV near Olympic Medical Center on Wednesday in Port Angeles. No one was injured. (Port Angeles Fire Department)
No one injured in RV fire

No one was injured following an RV fire at… Continue reading

tsr
Mobile Healing Clinic to start in Clallam Bay on Monday

RV offers similar MAT services as Sequim facility

Finalists for the 2023 Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber Commerce’s Citizen of the Year award include, front row, from left, Carol Labbe and Pauline Olsen. Not pictured is the award recipient, Renne Emiko Brock, who was unable to attend the chamber’s annual awards luncheon on Tuesday. Pictured with Labbe and Olsen are, back row, from left, chamber President Eran Kennedy, chamber Executive Director Beth Pratt and Lorie Fazio, Citizen of the Year committee chair. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Art advocate Brock named Sequim Citizen of Year

Labbe, Olsen finalists for town’s top civic award

Lena Curtis guides a snow sled with her two children, Lucien Williams, 4 1/2, and Millie, 2, all from Port Townsend, down a snow hill at Port Townsend High School on Tuesday. An overnight storm passed through but not before depositing about 3 inches of soft powder, which melted rapidly as the day warmed. The blast of snowfall was largely confined to the area around Port Townsend and Port Hadlock overnight into Tuesday morning on the North Olympic Peninsula. Another weather system was coming in on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to drop rain in the lowlands and snow in the mountains on Wednesday and early Thursday, according to meteorologist Jacob DeFlitch with the National Weather Service in Seattle. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Downhill sledding

Lena Curtis guides a snow sled with her two children, Lucien Williams,… Continue reading

waddell
Clallam PUD seeks replacement for Waddell

Applicants for the Clallam County Public Utility District commissioner seat… Continue reading

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe council leaders celebrate the opening of the tribe’s new library at its Blyn campus on Saturday. Pictured, from left, are treasurer Theresa Lehman, vice chair Loni Grinnell-Greninger, chair/CEO Ron Allen and secretary Rochelle Blankenship. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe celebrates library opening

Chairman/CEO: New facility is ‘second to none’