Clallam County returns to high-risk category; Jefferson County up to moderate

Ninth death on North Olympic Peninsula confirmed

Clallam County health officials confirmed a COVID-19 death — the ninth on the North Olympic Peninsula — as case rates climbed state-defined categories.

A woman in her 80s who had underlying health conditions has died, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

“She actually passed a little bit ago,” Berry wrote in a text message Monday. “The death certificate was not initially flagged so it took some time to enter our numbers.

“She was infected back in January before widespread vaccination.”

The woman’s death was added to Clallam County’s total on Monday. Seven Clallam residents have died of the disease since the pandemic began last year, and two Jefferson County residents have died of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Clallam County returned to the state’s high-risk category with a case rate of 93 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Monday, and Jefferson County rose to the moderate-risk category with a rate of 53 per 100,000 for the past two weeks as of Saturday.

Although both Peninsula counties remain in the Phase 3 of the state’s Roadmap to Recovery, Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday that Pierce, Whitman and Cowlitz counties will move back to Phase 2 restrictions by the end of the week due to the rising case numbers and hospitalizations.

Berry and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, said they are concerned about the rise in cases statewide and the potential for more hospitalizations — and possibly deaths — to follow.

“We’re really at a critical junction in the state,” Locke said during his Monday briefing with the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners. “We don’t want to become the next Michigan.

“It’s much harder to bring a high case rate down than it is to prevent a high case rate to begin with.”

Michigan has been struggling with surges reaching more than 6,000 cases and 40 deaths per day in recent weeks, according to Michigan’s data.

Locke and Berry both believe Washington’s Roadmap to Recovery allowing more high-risk activities under Phase 3 has people relaxing preventative measures, especially with gathering indoors, an activity people should still avoid without vaccinations, they said.

People should continue to wear face masks, social distance, wash their hands frequently and avoid indoor gatherings and travel, or both Peninsula counties may be moved back into Phase 2 restrictions, Berry said.

Peninsula officials are eyeing the possibility of increased mitigation before the state mandates a full move back to Phase 2, such as limiting the large indoor gatherings that are currently allowed.

“Certainly, we learned early on in the pandemic that early action is better than later,” Berry said. “My hope is that people start taking this seriously now.

“All of us prefer to make these changes voluntarily instead of the state forcing us to close things down, and we prefer to do that, too. But, we have to decide to make safer decisions.

“There are many things that are legal and allowable that aren’t safe. Just because an activity is allowed doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, especially when we have this much virus activity — especially variant activity. We don’t recommend gathering indoors, and certainly not with large groups.”

Many pharmacies across the Peninsula are scheduling individual appointments. The state has created a vaccination locator at https://vaccine locator.doh.wa.gov.

Appointments for upcoming vaccination events put on by Clallam County Emergency Management and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe are available at http:// vaccine.clallam.net/register or by phone at 360-417-2430.

Port Angeles High School will provide Moderna vaccine on April 17, Johnson & Johnson on April 18 and Pfizer on April 24-25.

Jamestown’s clinic at Trinity United Methodist Church and Carrie Blake Park will have about 800 Johnson & Johnson appointments on April 20 and April 22.

Jefferson Healthcare hospital will host Johnson & Johnson clinics on Thursday and on April 21; appointments can be made at https://jeffersonhealth care.org/covid-19-vaccine, said Amy Yaley, Jefferson Healthcare spokesperson.

Jefferson County Public Health and the county Department of Emergency Management will operate an appointment-only Moderna vaccination clinic on Saturday at the Chimacum School District Multi-Purpose Room. Appointments can be made at bit.ly/jeffcovax or by calling 360-344-9791.

Forks Community Hospital has a Moderna vaccination clinic scheduled for April 30. More information can be found at www.ForksHospital.org.

Clallam County confirmed four new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, while Jefferson County confirmed one new case.

Jefferson County has confirmed 16 cases so far in April, about 4.42 percent of the 362 cases in the past year, according to county Public Health data.

Clallam County has confirmed 66 cases of COVID-19 so far this month, about 5.84 percent of the 1,131 cases during the past year, according to county data.

Sixty-five COVID-19 cases were active as of Thursday in Clallam County. Jefferson County had nine active cases.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at zjablonski@peninsuladailynews.com.

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