Clallam County added three cases of COVID-19 Wednesday while Jefferson County reported one case after a two-week hiatus in coronavirus transmission, health officials said.
Clallam County had 92 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, including 10 cases in the past two days and 20 cases in the past week.
Jefferson County’s COVID-19 confirmed case count held at 50 for two weeks until a 51st case involving a woman in her 70s emerged late Wednesday, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.
Each of the three new cases in Clallam County was connected to one of seven cases discovered Tuesday.
“Certainly it’s concerning,” Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank said Wednesday.
“It is a small spike compared to what we were seeing before.”
Clallam County public health officials were tracing contacts of the new cases to try to quell further transmission. Those who had been in contact with the new cases will be quarantined for 14 days.
“The three today were connected to the seven yesterday, who were connected to cases before that,” Unthank said.
“So they’re all known quantities.
“I think as long as this remains isolated,” Unthank added, “and we don’t see further exposures, this is something that can be gotten under control.”
Locke said the two-week pause in new cases in Jefferson County was “significant.”
“I give credit to the people of Jefferson County for decreased cases,” Locke said in a Wednesday interview.
“We’re trying to educate people on what it takes to prevent the infection, but it’s really up to each individual resident to do the things necessary.”
Locke attributed the reprieve in COVID-19 transmission to people following physical distancing and masking orders and avoiding gatherings where the highly contagious virus can spread.
Jefferson County went nearly a month with no new cases beginning in late May, Locke said.
He said the county had been successful in identifying COVID-19 cases, treating patients and preventing infections from spreading.
No coronavirus deaths have been reported on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Some of Clallam County’s recent cases were attributed to delayed testing.
“It really highlights the critical importance of testing early if you feel sick at all, which is both the responsibility of the person who’s sick and also for our medical system to make sure that that’s an easy process to navigate,” Unthank said.
“When we see testing delays, we always see more exposures because that person doesn’t realize they have COVID-19 and ends up exposing more people.”
Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, is encouraged to get tested.
Unthank said the rise in new cases underscored the need for people to avoid gatherings. Fourth of July parities were blamed for a spike in COVID-19 cases earlier this month.
“We’ve had historically a little more trouble getting all of our population on board with avoiding gatherings, and I think we’re seeing that play out a little bit,” Unthank said Wednesday.
“I think that the difference between the numbers that we’re seeing in Jefferson and Clallam really highlight that difference and the critical importance of avoiding gatherings.”
Locke said he was concerned about increased COVID-19 activity in neighboring Clallam and Kitsap counties and along the Interstate-5 corridor.
“A lot of people in Jefferson County go to Costco and Home Depot and places like that,” Locke said, referring to Sequim.
“There’s a lot of movement back and forth to Kitsap County as well because of Silverdale and all the commerce there, and the ferries.
“So we are intimately connected to the other counties,” Locke added.
“When you travel to the neighboring counties, or to the I-5 counties, your risk is going up, so it makes it all the more important to do the protective things, masking and hand washing and staying away from people if you encounter people who are not wearing masks.”
One of Clallam County’s recent cases involved a child who attended a daycare facility that Unthank would not identify. She would not say if the business shut down because of the positive test. She did say the health department did not ask anyone to close.
None of the three new cases in Clallam County were connected to the daycare.
In a Wednesday interview, Unthank said the child was exposed to COVID-19 before attending the daycare, which had proper infection prevention measures in place.
“It wasn’t the fault of the daycare,” Unthank said.
“We’re going to see (cases) show up in workplaces, show up in daycares and, even in the fall, once we get them going, in the schools.
“The goal of infection prevention is to keep that from spreading among the people there,” Unthank added, “but it can’t prevent individual cases from arriving.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].