COVID case rates decreasing, but flu cases are here

Health official says vaccines offer best protection

COVID-19 case rates may be trending down on the North Olympic Peninsula, but influenza is beginning to show up.

“We are just starting to see the flu circulate in our region,” said Dr. Allison Berry, the health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties. “We have had less than five cases so far, which is a lot fewer cases than normal.”

The state Department of Health reported three deaths from the flu on Wednesday. All three were people older than 65.

“Last season, flu activity was historically low, likely due to increased COVID-19 precautions, such as mask-wearing, remote learning, occupancy limits and work from home measures taken during the pandemic,” the Department of Health said in a press release. “The last time Washington reported a flu-related death was during the 2019-2020 flu season when there were 114 influenza-associated deaths, including 36 deaths at this point in the year.”

Berry said the best defense to protect against the flu is to get the seasonal vaccination. She also recommended people continue to wear face masks.

“Flu vaccinations are widely available right now and a big part of the low rates over the last few years has been masking,” she said.

There are concerns each year about the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, Berry said. Due to the low rates of flu infection, it’s too early to tell the efficacy of this year’s shot, she added.

Meanwhile, COVID case rates continue to fall, even as case numbers rise as the Peninsula crests over the peak of the omicron variant.

Despite Wednesday’s bump in data from the state, Clallam County has seen its case rate fall to 1,617 per 100,000 population in the past two weeks. Total cases since the pandemic began rose to 9,072, up 147 cases from Wednesday’s 8,925.

In Jefferson County, COVID cases rose from 2,453 to 2,486, an increase of 33.

Jefferson County’s case rate is at 1,397 per 100,000 for the past two weeks. It updates its case rate weekly on Fridays.

Fifteen Clallam County residents were hospitalized with the COVID on Thursday, eight at Olympic Medical Center and seven out of the county.

Six of the seven are in intensive care units.

Three were hospitalized Thursday at Jefferson Healthcare, with one in the ICU.

No additional deaths were reported in either county.

Berry said the Department of Health is beginning to consider lifting the proof-of-vaccination mandate as case rates begin to decline.

“We looking to get closer to 200 per 100,000 cases before lifting that mandate, which should happen sometime in mid-March,” she said.

In terms of lifting masking mandates, that’s a bit more complicated.

“We are still trying to figure out and get guidance on that front,” Berry said. “We learned from the past that lifting the masking restriction can be dangerous. We really don’t want to see another spike in cases again.”

When some masking restrictions were lifted last June, the peninsula saw a significant spike in COVID cases, she said.


Reporter Ken Park can be reached by email at [email protected]

More in News

Scholarship luncheon set for Friday in Port Angeles

Soroptimist International of Port Angeles will host its annual… Continue reading

Jefferson PUD views broadband

The Jefferson County Public Utility District commissioners will hear… Continue reading

Nation passes 1M COVID deaths

First-time vaccine rates up in Clallam

Three-way race forms for District 24 seat

Candidates sign up on first day of official filing week

Three-way race forms for District 24 seat

Candidates sign up on first day of official filing week

Vancouver police: Arby’s manager urinated in milkshake mix

A manager at an Arby’s fast food restaurant has… Continue reading

Judge tosses COVID-19 vaccine objections of Hanford workers

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by several… Continue reading

A stylized dragon with its mouth operated by Kurt White makes its way down Washington Street as part of the Olympic Theatre Arts entry in Saturday’s Sequim Irrigation Festival Grand Parade. The event returned to an in-person activity with more than 90 entries and thousands of spectators lining the parade route. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Irrigation Festival Grand parade

Awards issued to floats in the Sequim Irrigation Festival Grand Parade on… Continue reading

Most Read