Case rates in both Clallam and Jefferson counties dropped Monday as the North Olympic Peninsula started to see a slow down in COVID-19 transmission.
Jefferson County’s case rate was recalculated at 72.1 per 100,000 residents for the past two weeks as of Monday, while Clallam County’s case rate dropped to 117 per 100,000 for the same time period, according to local health officers.
Last week, Jefferson County had a case rate of 116 per 100,000 and Clallam County hovered between 140 and 155 cases per 100,000.
The drop in case rates “suggests that we’re moving out of the New Year’s surge,” said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.
Clallam County did confirm two new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, while Jefferson had four new cases, according to county public health data.
Clallam County Public Health also is investigating an outbreak of five cases in a “residential setting,” although Berry and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, have previously stated they will not release a location publicly if their departments are able to effectively contract trace potential exposures.
Vaccination clinics and new vaccination appointments are on hold this week as both counties try to rebuild their supply, due to irregular shipments from the state, which has been funneling doses to places such as King County that are behind on vaccinations.
Appointments for the Jamestown S’Klallam clinic in Sequim and the Clallam County Department of Emergency Management clinic in Port Angeles are expected to reopen either at the end of this week or the beginning of next week, Berry said.
Berry hopes Clallam will be able to vaccinate 4,500 people a week potentially next week and into the future, with the goal of having more than 70 percent of the population vaccinated by August, depending on vaccine supply, she said Monday.
The state appears to be along that same timeline, as Locke estimated five to seven months to vaccinate more than 70 percent of the population, which would be the end of July at the latest.
Both estimations depend on consistent and an increase in vaccine supply and do not factor in potential additional vaccines, such as Johnson & Johnson’s, which is expected to release data from its phase 3 trials this week and could apply for Emergency Use Authorization in February or March.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it believes 59 percent of cases stem from super-spreaders who are asymptomatic, and Locke said that’s why people have to be cautious with following COVID-19 prevention protocols such as mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing,
In addition to the asymptomatic spread, the more contagious U.K. variant of the novel coronavirus was confirmed in Washington over the weekend, and Berry said it’s an indicator that people should continue to be vigilant.
“My worry is whenever we succeed as a community — which we have as of late — there’s always some of us who let our guard down, and especially with the new variant, that can cause the virus to get out of control quite quickly,” she said.
So far this month, Clallam County has confirmed 161 cases, about 17.9 percent of the 900 it has confirmed since March, according to Clallam County Public Health data.
Jefferson County has confirmed 63 cases of COVID-19, about 22.3 percent of the 283 it has confirmed since March, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.
Forty-three COVID-19 cases were active as of Monday in Clallam County, and two people were hospitalized with one in the Intensive Care Unit.
Jefferson County had 16 active cases.
The test positivity on the Peninsula — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 4.8 percent in Clallam County for Jan. 8-22, and 2.37 percent in Jefferson County for Jan. 18-24.
Jefferson County is in the state’s moderate-risk category, while Clallam is still in the high-risk category.
Both counties’ case rates are well below the state’s average case rate of 462.2 per 100,000 for the past two weeks as of Sunday, according to the state dashboard.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].