While no new cases were confirmed at the long-term care facility outbreak in Clallam County on Thursday, Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry is expecting more cases to show up over the coming days.
The unidentified care facility has had a total of 15 COVID-19 cases so far, with 11 residents and four staff members infected.
Berry and her team are “very concerned” about the facility and is enlisting aid from the state health department on the outbreak response, after Clallam County Public Health found a breakdown in some transmission prevention protocols at the facility, Berry said.
“We will be working closely with the facility and also with our state colleagues to do what needs to be done to make sure that there’s no further transmission at that facility,” she said.
“It is understandably concerning when you hear that there’s a long-term care facility outbreak, but if you have a family member at this facility you have been notified,” she added.
She does not identify facilities with outbreaks.
“The communication to family is primarily from the facility itself, so if you have questions about the place where your family member is staying, we recommend directing those directly to the facility.”
Most of those at the long-term care facility are vaccinated, but vaccines can be less effective in elderly and immunosuppressed residents. However, the vaccinations have helped the facility limit the number of hospitalizations to two so far, Berry said, adding that no deaths have been reported.
“This outbreak would certainly be worse if a large proportion of the residents weren’t vaccinated, but it’s still worse than we would like it to be,” she said.
Clallam County added four new cases Thursday, tied to small gatherings of unvaccinated residents primarily in the West End and some in Port Angeles, Berry said, while Jefferson County confirmed three new cases that were still under investigation Thursday, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.
Locke continues to be concerned for unvaccinated residents. COVID-19 variants that are more contagious and more harmful continue to spread among unvaccinated community members, he said.
Jefferson County has been seeing a small rise in cases, with nine confirmed over the past week, compared to four confirmed over the two weeks from May 17 to May 30.
“Unfortunately, it’s what we expect,” Locke said. “It’s not a surprise at all because it’s a combination of more infectious variants and the competition ground for the variants are the unvaccinated.
“There are still enough unvaccinated people to keep the variants going and spreading, and that’s one of many reasons why we need to continue to get the vaccination rate up,” he said.
Jefferson County is returning to the Port Townsend Farmers Market to offer Johnson & Johnson vaccine from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Locke said.
Other vaccination clinics on the North Olympic Peninsula can be found at https://www.peninsula dailynews.com/news/ vaccination- clinics-set-this-week-as- lottery-begins.
The state has a vaccination locator at https:// vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov, which allows users to see where appointments are available and which vaccine will be used.
While all state residents 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, anyone younger than 18 can receive only Pfizer’s vaccine.
Thirty-eight cases have been confirmed in June so far in Clallam County, about 2.74 percent of 1,389 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data.
Jefferson County has confirmed 10 cases this month so far, about 1.65 percent of the 427 total cases since the pandemic began, according to county data.
Clallam County had three patients hospitalized for COVID-19 on Thursday.Jefferson County had one resident hospitalized.
Thirty-eight COVID-19 cases were active in Clallam County on Thursday, while Jefferson County had nine active cases.
Clallam County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 49 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Thursday, while Jefferson County is in the state’s low-risk category with a case rate of 15.67 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at email@example.com.