A Jefferson County resident reportedly died of COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising the total number of deaths in the county to 19 and increasing the total on the North Olympic Peninsula to 88 since the pandemic began.
Clallam County didn’t report any new deaths Tuesday. The county has had 69 since the pandemic began.
The death reported Tuesday was of a man in his 70s who had significant underlying conditions, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties.
The man had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine but had not received a booster yet, similar to the death reported Monday in Jefferson County, Berry said.
“Painfully, these cases show us the critical nature of getting our elders their boosters,” Berry said. “For many other folks, boosters are just an added layer of protection, but in our elders, they really make all the difference.
“We have an active long-term care facility outbreak (in Jefferson County) right now, and what we’ve seen there is when the residents are boosted and they test positive, we’re seeing that they’re either asymptomatic or very mildly symptomatic even though they’re elderly and living in long-term care.”
Berry does not identify facilities with outbreaks if the health departments are able to conduct contact tracing.
All Washington residents 18 and older are eligible for booster doses of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s vaccines six months after they completed their initial shots, and locations offering boosters can be found by using the states vaccination locator at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov.
“The booster is really making a difference in reducing the likelihood and the severity of infections in these high-risk folks,” Berry said. “Anyone in our community … over 70, it’s really critical that you get that booster as soon as possible.”
There are two long-term care facility outbreaks currently on the Peninsula, with one Jefferson County and one in Clallam County, Berry said.
The Jefferson County outbreak added two more cases Tuesday between a resident and a staff member, raising the number of cases there to 15, with 13 residents infected and two staff, Berry said.
“It’s certainly a much larger outbreak than we would like to see, but so far it’s been relatively manageable,” Berry said.
“I think really key factors in keeping that outbreak under control is the fact that many of the residents had already received their boosters and that we were able to distribute monoclonal antibodies relatively rapidly.
“That seems to be providing a lot of protection to residents in that case.”
No new cases were added to the Clallam County outbreak on Tuesday. That outbreak has had a total of 42 cases so far, Berry said.
Residents at those facilities who chose to not receive boosters or monoclonal antibodies are experiencing more severe infections than those who did, Berry said.
Clallam County added six new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The county has confirmed a total of 5,213 cases since the start of the pandemic, county health data said.
Jefferson County added three new cases Tuesday. The county has confirmed a total of 1,276 cases since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.
Clallam County had a case rate of 246 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Tuesday, according to county public health data.
In Jefferson County, health officials recorded a case rate of 192.61 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Nov. 17. Prior to that, the county had a case rate of 201.93 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Nov. 10.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]