Four of the seven new cases confirmed Thursday in Jefferson County are connected to an outbreak that had reached 22 cases of COVID-19.
Jefferson County Health officer Dr. Tom Locke declined to identify the location of the outbreak, or cluster, that Jefferson County Public Health has been conducting since last week.
“All recent cluster cases were in quarantine when tested positive,” Locke said in a text message Thursday.
“Names of businesses or facilities experiencing outbreaks are not disclosed when all exposed people can be identified and evaluated.”
Meanwhile, Clallam County confirmed three new cases Thursday.
Three of the confirmed cases in Jefferson County were reported late Wednesday and were under investigation Thursday.
Two of the cases in Clallam are contacts of prior confirmed cases, while the third contracted the virus out of county, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer, who also cautioned against Super Bowl parties.
“What we really don’t want to see is people wasting that momentum we have going,” she said. “The Seahawks aren’t even in the Super Bowl this year, so I highly recommend watching from your own household and not having a party.”
People who are vaccinated for COVID-19 should continue to follow prevention protocols until some 70 to 80 percent of residents have been vaccinated, both North Olympic Peninsula health officials said.
As of Thursday afternoon, about 19 percent of Clallam County residents had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while Jefferson County had administered first doses to about 11 percent of the county as of Monday.
Only about 3 percent of Clallam residents and 3.5 percent of Jefferson residents have received both doses of either Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccines, according to Berry on Thursday and to Jefferson Healthcare’s vaccine tracker that was last updated Monday.
People must not mix vaccines from the two companies, instead getting two doses of either the Pzifer or Moderna vaccine.
Even after receiving both doses, residents are urged to continue to follow prevention protocols such as wearing face masks, social distancing and hand washing until the counties reach “herd immunity,” with greater than 70 percent of the population vaccinated, both Locke and Berry said.
Locke reminded people that even if they are vaccinated, the various mask-wearing mandates at the county, state and federal levels remain in effect.
“As a matter of law, there are no changes in any kind of public places or transit where you’re legally required to wear a mask,” he said.
The current vaccines help prevent serious illness, but it’s possible to have a low-grade infection that could be spread to others, Locke said.
“The pandemic is not really over until it’s over for everyone,” he said.
“I understand how psychologically people want to believe that the pandemic is over and all the restrictions end when they get vaccinated, but all that really changes is personal risk.”
People who have been fully vaccinated, with both shots, could start to slowly and carefully expand their social circle, but they should move with caution, Berry said.
“Even a really good vaccine is not 100 percent effective,” she said. “What we really don’t want to see people do is stop following all of the pandemic protocols.
“If we see that, we’re going to lose all of the benefit of the vaccine, and we could see a disease resurgence,” Berry added.
“We want to think of the vaccine as an additive protection to what we’ve been doing, rather than a replacement, and that’s really until we reach herd immunity in the community.”
Once herd immunity is reached, virus spread will significantly slow and precautions can be lifted, but that’s still a few months away, Berry said.
She cautioned against people gathering for Super Bowl parties this Sunday, since virus activity is still high.
“Our community is in a really good spot right now,” Berry said. “We’re seeing disease transmission go down, we’re seeing vaccine percentages go up, so we’re in a really good spot if we can keep this going.”
Clallam County’s test positivity — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 3.2 percent from Jan. 18 to Feb. 1, Berry said.
Jefferson County’s test positivity was 4.46 percent for Jan. 25-31.
So far this month, Clallam County has confirmed eight cases of COVID-19, about 0.85 percent of the 944 cases confirmed since last March, according to Clallam County Public Health data.
Jefferson County has confirmed 11 cases of COVID-19, about 3.5 percent of the 314 it has confirmed since last March, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.
Forty-seven COVID-19 cases were active as of Thursday in Clallam County, with one person hospitalized.
Jefferson County had 27 active cases.
Clallam County’s case rate was 86 per 100,000 for the past two weeks as of Thursday, while Jefferson County’s case rate was 106.58 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Sunday, according to county public health data.
Both counties are in the state’s high-risk category.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].