The COVID-19 death toll on the North Olympic Peninsula rose to 20 after an unvaccinated Clallam County man died Monday due to the novel coronavirus.
The man was in his 70s and was hospitalized about a week ago, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer. He had chronic health conditions but had been able to live independently, she said.
“It’s heartbreaking to see people die from this infection when they don’t need to,” Berry said. “I really want to urge all of us to seriously consider getting vaccinated before this pandemic gets worse.”
It was unknown Tuesday if he had contracted a variant of COVID-19, as officials are waiting for the results of genetic sequencing, Berry said.
“These recent deaths really kind of show the trajectory the pandemic is taking,” Berry said. “We’re seeing a split in the pandemic.
“For those folks who are vaccinated, the pandemic is really ending. But for those who are unvaccinated, the pandemic is getting worse,” she continued.
“The new variants are more severe and more transmissible. So, unfortunately, what we’re seeing is, for those who are unvaccinated, the risk of contracting the infection and the risk of dying from the infection is actually going up, and it’s likely to continue to go up.”
Four of Clallam County’s 16 total COVID-19 deaths have been in the past two weeks, Berry pointed out.
Jefferson County has reported four deaths total, with the most recent confirmed in late May.
“We’re really seeing an increased death rate compared to prior,” Berry said. “That really just speaks to the risk associated with the variants especially, when they come in contact with the unvaccinated people in our community.”
A long-term care facility outbreak that Clallam County Public Health reported Monday remained Tuesday at two confirmed cases. The cases are among an unvaccinated staff member and a vaccinated resident, Berry said.
While the resident was vaccinated, those who are elderly and others who have suppressed immune systems may not be fully protected by their vaccination alone and may need to rely on the protection of those around them being vaccinated as well, Berry has said.
The latest data shows 75.1 percent of Jefferson County residents 16 and older have initiated vaccinations, with 72.1 percent of them fully vaccinated, while 67.9 percent of the total population has started vaccinations, and 65.1 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.
Of residents 12 and older, 73.8 percent have started vaccinations, with 70.8 percent fully vaccinated in Jefferson County. In Clallam County, 63.5 percent of that population has begun vaccinations, with 59.4 percent fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.
Clallam County has vaccinated 65.2 percent of residents 16 and older with at least one dose, with 61.2 percent of them fully vaccinated, while 56.4 percent of the total population has begun vaccinations and 52.8 percent is fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.
Clallam County added six COVID-19 cases Tuesday. Jefferson County added two.
Clallam County has two residents hospitalized, with one in the Intensive Care Unit, Berry said.
Jefferson County has three people hospitalized, with one at Jefferson Healthcare in Port Townsend and two at St. Michael Medical Center in Silverdale, Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, said in a text message Tuesday.
Clallam County has confirmed 48 COVID-19 cases so far this month, about 3.17 percent of the 1,513 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data. Sixteen residents have died of the disease.
Jefferson County has confirmed 17 COVID-19 cases so far this month, about 3.64 percent of the 467 cases reported since the start of the pandemic, according to county public health data. Four residents have died of COVID.
Fifty-two cases were active in Clallam County on Tuesday. Jefferson County had eight active cases.
Both counties are in the state’s moderate-risk category with case rates of 68 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Tuesday in Clallam County, and Jefferson County at about 47 cases per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at email@example.com.