A Clallam County courthouse office was closed after two county employees contracted COVID-19. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

A Clallam County courthouse office was closed after two county employees contracted COVID-19. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam County office closes after COVID-19 exposure

Commissioners will discuss courthouse operations this morning

PORT ANGELES — A Clallam County government office housing Department of Community Development, environmental health and public works employees that was shut down Monday was scheduled to re-open today after two cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed among county staff.

County Commissioners Chairman Mark Ozias said commissioners today will discuss the office’s closure and “what the public can expect in terms of the operation of the courthouse and various departments of the courthouse.”

The livestreamed meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at tinyurl.com/PDN-ClallamMeetings.

A sign posted on the first-floor office Monday notified the public that, “Out of an abundance of caution for everyone’s safety this department is closed because of a COVID-19 related exposure. This office will reopen Tuesday, September 22, 2020.”

Additional DCD and public works staff are in other areas of the courthouse that remained open for services.

Some courthouse offices remained closed to walk-in traffic but open to providing services. Law and justice offices remained open.

Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank notified county staff of the COVID-19 cases in an email Monday at 12:18 p.m.

“The first case has been fully investigated and all of those who were exposed have been notified and received quarantine instructions,” she said.

“The second case is currently being investigated by the department of public health and all of those who were exposed will be notified and receive quarantine instructions by the end of the business day [Monday].

“These cases are unrelated and there is no evidence of transmission in county facilities at this time. There is additionally no evidence of any public exposures related to these cases at this time.”

Unthank said her office does not release information about the departments or workplaces of people diagnosed or infected “out of respect for the privacy rights of those diagnosed and exposed.”

County Administrator Rich Sill said Unthank ordered that the DCD-public works-environmental health section be closed.

Whether it reopens today “will be determined by her and her contact [tracing] staff,” Sill said.

“We will just wait and see.”

DCD Director Mary Ellen Winborn said she was self-quarantining Monday and would not comment on the level or nature of the exposure among the office’s employees. She had not been notified her office was scheduled to reopen today.

Ozias said he did not know of the COVID-19 exposure until after he arrived at the courthouse and saw that the office was closed.

A sign was placed notifying the public later Monday, he said.

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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