Confirmed COVID-19 cases remain at 87 on Peninsula

Health officials urge use of face masks

Clallam and Jefferson County health officials were working to trace contacts of known carriers and encouraging face coverings on the first day of the latest mask order on Tuesday.

No new cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, were reported on the North Olympic Peninsula on Tuesday. The total was 87 for the two counties as the statewide “No Mask, No Service” rule took effect.

The order prohibits businesses from serving people who aren’t wearing masks.

“I totally support this,” Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said of the order.

“People have to understand how much is riding on getting people who are refusing to wear masks to change their mind, that it’s probably the key factor in being able to move from Phase 2 to Phase 3.”

Clallam and Jefferson counties are each in Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase reopening plan.

Jefferson County had applied to enter Phase 3 before Inslee announced Thursday a two-week hold on all phase applications due to spikes in COVID-19 transmission in other parts of the state.

“If everyone was wearing masks, we would see a lot less transmission, and we could confidently say that we could continue to open things up,” Locke said in a Tuesday interview.

“But if a significant number of people are going to refuse to do that based on some misguided sense of personal liberty, we may not move to Phase 3 because we may not be able to control things well enough to get to that point.”

Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer, decided against recommending applying for Phase 3 because of two outbreaks.

No additional cases of COVID-19 had emerged as of Tuesday from recent outbreaks at Olympic Medical Center and Serenity House of Clallam County. Two were found at OMC, where 398 tests were administered, and two at Serenity House, where 104 were tested.

“We definitely feel confident that the Olympic Medical Center cases are under control,” Unthank said.

“We are continuing to test at Serenity House, and we haven’t gotten their next set (of results) back yet.”

Unthank said she expected the results of about 90 tests that were conducted at Serenity House on Monday to be available today or Thursday. The tests are a second round at Serenity House because COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to two weeks.

Unthank said one case was removed from Clallam County’s case total Tuesday because a woman in her 50s who tested positive locally was found to be an out-of-county resident.

As of Tuesday, Clallam County had 46 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Jefferson County’s case number remained at 41.

“Right now, we’re just doing a lot of contact tracing and case management support for people who are in quarantine, making sure that people can stay home,” Unthank said in a Tuesday interview.

“My biggest message for folks is that it’s important to practice distancing with everyone outside your household.

“Those close contacts with people who live outside your household are actually the best way to spread COVID-19,” Unthank added.

“So keeping that space, even if you know folks, is important — and wearing a mask in all of those contacts.”

Clallam County health officials had conducted 5,702 COVID-19 tests with 46 positive, 5,547 negative and 109 pending. Thirty-eight Clallam County patients who were hospitalized have recovered.

Jefferson County health officials had conducted 3,410 tests with 41 positives, 3,317 negative and 52 pending.

Thirty-one Jefferson County patients have recovered, according to the Jefferson County Public Health website.

No deaths had been attributed to COVID-19 on the North Olympic Peninsula.

One patient who recently tested positive in Jefferson County will not be counted in the local statistics because he is a Clark County resident, Locke said.

The man was associated with a known outbreak in southwest Washington.

“When we have visitors who test positive, our concern is to identify anyone who might have been exposed, who might need quarantine or testing,” Locke said.

“It doesn’t show up on any of these official counts. It would only show up if they’re Jefferson County residents who end up testing positive.

“Of course, this, like other infections, doesn’t have any respect for county boundaries,” Locke added, “so we do whatever it takes to try to control it.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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