As COVID-19 cases skyrocket on the North Olympic Peninsula, the Clallam County Courthouse has closed temporarily for deep cleaning after at least 71 employees either contracted or were exposed to the virus.
The courthouse, at 223 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles, was closed to the public on Thursday and will remain closed today, except for courts, for deep cleaning and sterilization.
“During the current COVID situation, Clallam County needs to put in place precautionary measures to reduce the risk of further local transmission of COVID,” announced county officials on Wednesday afternoon.
“We urge you to take all necessary steps to stay healthy and follow the guidelines outlined by the local health officer.”
Clallam County Commissioners hosted an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon to address the closure as well as discuss an administrative reopening plan, which may include voluntary testing.
“This all happened and came together very quickly and we are trying to make it as clear as possible to the public,” said Rich Sill, Clallam County administrator and human resources manager, during the emergency meeting.
District courts will operate as usual today while Clallam Superior Court will be open with modifications such as appearances through Zoom and strict masking protocols.
The county auditor’s and treasurer’s offices were closed this week due to COVID-19 exposures.
The courthouse is expected to reopen to staff and the public on Monday.
The virus also has had an impact on Jefferson County leadership.
Jefferson County Commissioner Greg Brotherton discussed earlier this week his testing positive over the holidays.
“I had a bit of a scratchy throat on Christmas Eve, so I took a test and it came up positive,” he said Monday. “My wife and daughter also had symptoms and took tests, and my wife came up positive,” Brotherton said.
Brotherton said he and his wife and daughter isolated for 10 days per guidance at the time from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We were snowed in both physically and metaphorically,” Brotherton said.
Brotherton, his wife, and daughter had been vaccinated, and Brotherton and his wife had booster shots.
His 13-year-old daughter had only recently received her second dose at a Chimacum Highs School vaccination clinic and was ineligible for a booster shot at the time.
“I am glad to have been vaccinated because the symptoms were very mild and we know they could have been much worse,” Brotherton said.
Clallam County currently has 6,948 total cases of COVID-19, up 136 cases from Wednesday with a case rate of 1,364 per 100,000 population.
Nine people were hospitalized Thursday, seven in intensive care, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.
Jefferson County saw an increase as well, with a total of 1,672 cases, up 36 cases from Wednesday, with one person in the hospital.
Jefferson County will update its case rate on Friday.
Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].