COVID-19 cases remain steady on Peninsula

It’s too soon to tell how reduced COVID-19 restrictions are affecting coronavirus transmission on the North Olympic Peninsula, health officials said.

No new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Clallam or Jefferson counties Tuesday.

“I’d say so far, so good, but this is a long road,” said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer. “Anyone who thinks the virus has disappeared is sadly mistaken.”

Clallam County’s positive case total held at 27 on Tuesday, with 26 cases recovered. Jefferson County’s case total remained at 31, with 30 recovered, according to county health departments.

Both counties are in the second phase of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase reopening plan.

“I think people are appropriately cautious when they start to venture out into the world,” said Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer. “I think as long as we keep doing that — going slow as we open up our social circles — I think we can really do quite well.”

Anyone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including cough, fever and shortness of breath, is encouraged to get tested.

COVID-19 tests are available at primary care clinics, walk-in clinics, tribal clinics and a drive-through system at Jefferson Healthcare.

“Do call ahead, please, especially if you think you might have COVID-19,” Unthank said in a telephone interview.

Counties must remain in Phase 2 for at least three weeks before becoming eligible to apply to enter Phase 3. Phase 3 would allow more businesses to reopen and larger public gatherings.

“We’re pulling together the data to see if Jefferson County qualifies for moving to Phase 3,” Locke said Tuesday. “We’re anticipating that decision will be made next week by the Board of Health on Thursday.”

Locke said the latest challenge in the fight against COVID-19 is the “very appropriate, very needed” marches in support of Black Lives Matter and against police misconduct.

“These are also things, unfortunately, that stimulate coronavirus transmission, so we’re bracing ourselves for an increase from that,” Locke said. “It’s pretty much inevitable in the Seattle area, and whether it will spill out into other areas or not is yet to be seen.”

“We don’t think the risk is significantly increased for people who attended demonstrations on the Olympic Peninsula in Port Angles or Sequim or Port Townsend,” Locke added.

“It’s mainly because we have a lot less infection on the Olympic Peninsula.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.

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