Health officials on the North Olympic Peninsula were informed by the state on Thursday that members of the Phase 1B and 1C vaccination groups will be announced next week, while a COVID-19 outbreak in Clallam County grew to 18 people at an unidentified long-term care facility.
Two of the five new cases confirmed in Clallam County on Thursday were at the facility, one a resident and one a staff member. A total of nine residents and nine staff members have been confirmed as infected.
Dr. Allison Berry Unthank, Clallam County health officer, will not identify the facility. Both she and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, have said they do not identify businesses with confirmed cases unless the businesses do not cooperate with contact tracing. Unthank did not identify the long-term care facility that reported one case on Wednesday or outbreaks at a Sequim church and another long-term care facility earlier this year.
Both Jefferson and Clallam counties are nearing completion of providing the first dose of the two-shot vaccine in the Phase 1A group — close to 3,000 on the Peninsula so far. Both counties have received the Pfizer vaccine while only Clallam County had received the Moderna vaccine as of Thursday.
Jefferson County held with no new cases Thursday, Locke said.
The other three cases in Clallam County were contacts of prior confirmed cases, Unthank said.
Both health officers hope that people will follow guidelines and not gather over the holiday weekend, using Zoom and other communication methods to contact friends and family to wish them a happy New Year, to prevent a surge in cases.
“We think Christmas was the greatest risks for gathering and travel,” Locke said. “But, if people gather for New Year’s Eve, the risk goes up.”
Unthank hoped that if people did decide to gather Thursday night, that they kept the groups small, masked, distanced and outdoors to stay safer.
Jefferson County has distributed the first dose of Pfizer’s vaccine to more than 800 frontline health care workers, first responders and long-term care facility staff, Locke said.
Phase 1A encompasses frontline health care workers, first responders and long-term care facility staff and resident
Jefferson County’s long-term care facility residents are under a federal program for vaccinations, which is expected to start soon, Locke said.
Clallam County has vaccinated some long-term care residents who are not part of the federal program, Unthank has said previously.
Clallam County has distributed the first doses of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccine to nearly 2,000 people, Unthank said.
The health officers were informed Thursday that the state will announce next week who will be included in the Phase 1B and 1C groups. Both counties are nearing the end of Phase 1A.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices — which is comprised of immunization and disease experts — recommended Phase 1B include frontline essential workers and people older than 75, Locke said.
The state’s announcement next week should outline if it plans to adopt the recommendation for the Phase 1B group and also who the frontline essential workers would be, he said.
Because the 1B and 1C groups will be larger, both counties already are organizing large scale vaccination events.
So far this month, Clallam County has confirmed 233 cases, about 31.1 percent of the 749 the county has confirmed since March, according to Clallam County Public Health data.
Jefferson County has confirmed 50 cases of COVID-19, about 22.7 percent of the 220 the county has confirmed since March, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.
Fifty-one COVID-19 cases were active as of Monday in Clallam County, with two patients hospitalized and one in the intensive care unit.
Jefferson County had 12 active cases, with one case currently hospitalized.
The test positivity on the Peninsula — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 6.5 percent in Clallam County for Dec. 13-27, and 3.33 percent in Jefferson County for Dec. 21-27.
Jefferson County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 62.7 per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior as of Monday.
Clallam County is in the state’s high-risk category with a case rate of 129 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Thursday.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].