COVID cases dropping on Peninsula

Health officers still urge caution

Case rates for COVID-19 are dropping on the North Olympic Peninsula, but local health officers still urge caution for people traveling or having visitors, as case rates remain high in other parts of the state.

Jefferson County has not reported a new case since last Thursday, while Clallam County’s recent cases have been primarily associated with travel over the last week, county health officers said.

Clallam County confirmed four new COVID-19 cases Wednesday among a family that had traveled out of county, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

Both counties have seen a drop in case rates the last two weeks, dropping from about 62 per 100,000 residents last week for the two weeks prior in Jefferson County to 50.16 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.

Clallam County’s case rate has dropped from 121 per 100,000 reported May 11 to 75 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Wednesday.

While it’s good to see the drop, Clallam’s case rate is still in the high-risk category for exposures and people should continue to use caution, Berry said Wednesday.

“We are better than we were, but we’re still seeing far more transmission than we would like,” she said. “I think it’s also important to remember that we always only catch a proportion of cases, so these are just the cases we know about.

“We are seeing cases from people to traveling to higher-risk areas of the state. You can travel out of county, but if you travel out of county to gather with unvaccinated people indoors, then that’s relatively high-risk activity.”

Berry credits the efforts of the local public health departments, hospitals, health care workers, first responders and residents of the Peninsula for the low case counts the Peninsula has had throughout the pandemic in comparison to other parts of the state.

“We’ve been really lucky that the vast majority of our population has gotten on board with COVID-19 safety precautions,” she said.

While cases have been slowing down in Jefferson County, Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, continued to remind residents that the county still has an indoor mask mandate for businesses and restaurants. With tourism and travel picking up, it’s important for people to remain cautious, he said.

“That’s certainly great,” Locke said regarding the falling case numbers. “It’s what we’re working hard to achieve, although we also know it’s going to continue to go up and down.

“We’re entering that time of year where we get a lot of visitors, vacationers, travelers and there is going to be travelers coming from areas that have much higher exposure risk than we have on the Olympic Peninsula and we want everyone to be safe,” he continued.

“That’s also a reason why we want to maintain the indoor masking mandate, because we want visitors to the community to be masking while indoors; we don’t want try to sort out who is vaccinated and who is not.”

Both health officers continue to urge residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The state has a vaccination locator at https://vaccine locator.doh.wa.gov, which allows users to see where appointments are available and which vaccine will be used. While all Washington residents 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, anyone younger than 18 can receive only Pfizer’s vaccine.

The full calendar for pop-up clinics in Clallam County can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-Clallam PopUps.

Clallam County has confirmed 86 cases so far this month, about 6.52 percent of the 1,320 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data.

A total of 22 cases have been confirmed so far this month in Jefferson County, about 5.34 percent of the 412 total cases confirmed in the past year, according to county public health data.

Twenty-nine COVID-19 cases were active as of Wednesday in Clallam County, with three patients currently hospitalized, two of whom are in the Intensive Care Unit. Jefferson County had four active cases Wednesday. The Peninsula has had 13 deaths related to COVID-19, with 10 in Clallam County and three in Jefferson County.

Clallam County is in the state’s high-risk category with a case rate of 75 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Wednesday, while Jefferson County is in the moderate-risk category with a case rate of 50.16 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.

Clinics this week in Clallam County are:

Schools, for all who are 12 or older — Sequim High School, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, offering second dose of Pfizer vaccine.

Drop-in — First Steps Family Support, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. today, offering Moderna and Johnson & Johnson; Downtown Port Angeles (on Front Street, where the skating rink was earlier this year), 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Moderna and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Public health offices, by appointment only — Forks Public Health Office, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Mass clinic, second dose, by appointment only — Port Angeles High School, 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Pfizer.

Clinics this week in Jefferson County include:

Saturday, Chimacum High School — 9 a.m. to noon, second dose Moderna; 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Johnson & Johnson where appointments are recommended and walk-ins will be accepted. Call 360-344-9791 or visit https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/appointment/en/reg/509 2606201.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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