COVID-19 cases continue to rise

Delta strain dominant in state

COVID-19 activity on the North Olympic Peninsula continues to increase. Seven new COVID-19 cases in Clallam and four new cases in Jefferson County were confirmed on Tuesday.

COVID-19 cases are surging throughout the state, as the delta variant becomes more widespread and vaccination efforts have slowed, according to a press release from the state Department of Health.

“With transmission increasing and immunity levels dangerously low in many communities, every vaccine matters,” Dr. Scott Lindquist, acting chief science officer and state epidemiologist, said in the release.

“If you’ve been waiting to get vaccinated for any reason, now is the time to protect yourself, your family and everyone around you.”

The latest COVID-19 modeling and surveillance situation report shows the delta variant is the dominant strain circulating in Washington state but that vaccinations are protecting people from severe illness. As of July 4, estimated hospital admission rates among unvaccinated people ages 45-64 were about 20 times higher than rates among people of the same age who were fully vaccinated, according to the report.

The new cases on the Peninsula continue to be primarily among unvaccinated residents gathering indoors with others and traveling, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Both counties are also seeing an increase in community transmission — cases that have no known source contracted locally while interacting with the public. Berry stressed that is one of the reasons that support the need for everyone to wear a mask indoors again when in spaces where everyone is not confirmed to be fully vaccinated.

In addition to the increases locally, 24 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized at Central Washington Hospital as of Tuesday, the highest count since early January and more than double the number since the start of July, according to Wenatchee World.

Whatcom County saw three related deaths and 104 new confirmed COVID-19 cases last week — the county’s highest weekly gain since mid-June, according to the Bellingham Herald.

The new infections locally increased the case rates to 168 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Tuesday in Clallam County, and 72.1 cases per 100,000 for Jefferson County for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.

Clallam County is in the state’s high-risk category, while Jefferson County is at the high end of the moderate-risk category.

Clallam County has confirmed 161 COVID-19 cases so far this month, about 9.9 percent of the 1,626 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data. Seventeen residents have died of the disease.

Jefferson County has confirmed 47 COVID-19 cases so far this month, about 9.47 percent of the 497 cases reported since the start of the pandemic, according to county public health data. Four residents have died of the virus.

Clallam County had 80 active cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, while Jefferson County had 23 active cases.

Fifteen delta-variant cases have been confirmed in Clallam, connected with a previous church outbreak, while no delta-variant cases have been confirmed in Jefferson County. However, it is believed the variant is circulating in the community, Berry said.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at zjablonski@peninsuladailynews.com.

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