COVID-19 cases remain at plateau on Peninsula

Case rates on the North Olympic Peninsula are staying at a plateau, primarily upheld by continued widespread transmission on the West End in Clallam County and out-of-county travel in Jefferson County, health officials said.

Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties, said at a Friday briefing that case rates are remaining stable, but warned that at their continued high levels, that could start to increase quickly.

The surge in cases on the West End has been largely from a lot of gatherings, not masking and a low vaccination rate, Berry said, adding that some cases are being tracked to large memorial services the community has observed over the last two weeks.

“There were tragic deaths of some young people in that community and there were understandably and appropriately occasions to mourn that loss, but unfortunately we have traced positive cases back to those memorial services,” Berry said.

“At this point, if you live on the West End and you attended one of the memorial services in the last two weeks, we strongly recommend you get tested.”

Perhaps the largest such service was on Sept. 19, when more than 300 people gathered to mourn the deaths of young people who had died in a wreck the day before.

On Friday, Clallam County added 29 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 while Jefferson County added six new cases, according to public health data.

The new cases in Clallam County raised its total to 4,478 since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.

Jefferson County raised its total to 1,041 cases on Thursday since the pandemic began, public health data said.

Clallam County’s case rate increased Friday and continued to plateau in the 500-range, with the county reporting a rate of 586 cases per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Friday.

On Thursday, the county recorded 511 cases per 100,000 for the two weeks prior, public health data said.

Jefferson County’s case rate dropped slightly to 225.71 for the two weeks prior as of Wednesday. Earlier that week, the rate was 275.86 cases per 100,000 for the past two weeks as of Sept. 29, the same as the week before.

On Thursday, Berry visited the Clallam Bay Corrections Center, which has been managing an COVID-19 outbreak that had reported a total of 165 cases — 110 inmates and 55 staff — as of Oct. 2.

She told of high levels of prevention controls such as mask wearing, isolation and distancing being upheld by staff and said that were only 17 active cases as of Friday.

“It does look like the staff is doing a lot of good work to keep things under control,” Berry said.

As of Friday, four people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Jefferson County and five were hospitalized in Clallam County, public health data said.

A total of 53 people have died from COVID-19 in Clallam County since the pandemic began. Sixteen people have died in Jefferson County in the same time frame.

Neither county reported a new death on Friday.

The test positivity — the number of COVID-19 tests returned positive — was 5 percent for Jefferson County for Sept. 30 to Oct. 6 and 11.8 percent in Clallam County for Sept. 22 through Oct. 5, public health data said.

According to the latest data from the state Department of Health, 79.4 percent of the population 12 and older in Jefferson County have started vaccinations, with 75.7 percent fully vaccinated. Of the entire population, 73 percent have begun vaccination and 69.7 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

In Clallam County, 72.5 percent of the population 12 and older have started vaccinations, with 67.5 percent fully vaccinated. Of the total population, 64.4 percent have begun vaccinations, with 59.9 percent fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

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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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