Clallam, Jefferson health officers counsel continued caution

COVID-19 vaccination appointments to open up again soon

Even though the North Olympic Peninsula added only two new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, health officials continued to urge residents to be cautious because overall case rates remain high.

While lower than the most of the rest of the state, the case rates of 87 per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior as of Tuesday in Clallam County and 106.58 cases per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Sunday in Jefferson County are still in the high-risk category.

Clallam County confirmed two new cases on Tuesday, while Jefferson County held steady with no new cases, according to county health officers.

The new cases in Clallam County are contacts of prior confirmed cases, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

Vaccinations continue to be a priority for both Berry and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, on Tuesday.

In Clallam County, 14,977 doses — counting both first shots and second doses (both Pfizer and Modena vaccine require two shots) — had been given as of Sunday, according to the state’s dashboard. The Clallam County Public Health data says that at least 11,842 people had had vaccinations as of Monday.

Appointment scheduling for Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s Sequim vaccination clinic for Sequim-area residents 65 and older for their first dose will reopen at 9 a.m. Thursday for clinics on Feb. 9, Feb. 23 and Feb. 25, Berry said.

“Those who have already received your first vaccine at one of our drive-through events, you do not need to register for the second dose,” said Jamestown’s website. “You have a date to return and a vaccine will be available for you during the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“There is no need to arrive early. Only those with that date on their vaccine card will be allowed into that event.”

Appointment scheduling for the Port Angeles clinics will reopen at 9 a.m. next Wednesday for the following weekend, Berry said.

Appointments can be made for both clinics online at http://vaccine.clallam.net/register during the appropriate time.

Berry has expressed her frustration with the changes to the state’s “Roadmap to Recovery” plan, which allows counties with higher infection rates than the Peninsula, such as King and Snohomish, to move into Phase 2 while the Peninsula is left behind. But she urged people to not give up on following prevention protocols such as mask wearing, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and hand washing.

“I’ve heard some folks just throwing their hands up going ‘why did we work so hard’ and we’re trying to fight that as a community,” Berry said.

She urged residents to remember two things.

The first is the safety of the community.

“We have done well and it has kept our community safe. That is part of why we have to keep doing what we’re doing — whether or not the state recognizes it. It has made a huge difference in the safety of our community,” Berry said.

She also said that the Peninsula is close to having fewer restrictions.

“The other thing to remember is we are quite close to moving forward as a region, even with the metrics as they are,” Berry said.

“If we keep that work going, keep our focus on the end goal of keeping our community safe, we likely will be able to move forward soon.”

Jefferson Healthcare has administered 4,580 doses to 3,482 people as of Tuesday, according to Jefferson Healthcare’s website.

This week, Jefferson Healthcare received doses only for second-dose patients, but patients 65 and older can sign up at https://jefferson healthcare.org/covid-19- vaccine/ for notification when appointments do open up.

While trends on the Peninsula seem to have transmission decreasing, caution is still needed, Locke said.

“We do see some favorable trends relative to the peak that we saw in January, but we’re still at very high levels,” he said. “This is not a time for anyone to let up in any respect.

“All of the risks that have been there all along like travel and public gatherings and intermingling of households — all of those risks are still as high as they’ve ever been.”

So far this month, Clallam County has confirmed two cases of COVID-19, about 0.2 percent of the 938 cases confirmed since last March, according to Clallam County Public Health data.

Jefferson County has confirmed four cases of COVID-19, about 1.3 percent of the 307 it has confirmed since last March, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.

Forty-eight COVID-19 cases were active as of Tuesday in Clallam County, with two people hospitalized; one was in the Intensive Care Unit.

Jefferson County had 23 active cases.

The test positivity on the Peninsula — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 3.6 percent in Clallam County for Jan. 16-30, and 4.46 percent in Jefferson County for Jan. 25-31.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].

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