The rate of rise in COVID-19 cases on the North Olympic Peninsula is beginning to slow, sparking a hope among health officials that the numbers of new cases will begin to drop in the coming weeks.
“We are starting to see a plateau towards the end of the week, so I do think we are starting to reach the peak in cases for our region, which is a little ahead of the rest of the state, which is continuing to see cases rise,” said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.
Clallam County reported 42 new cases since Friday, bringing its total since the COVID-19 pandemic began from 12,611 to 12,653 with a case rate of 850 per 100,000 population, down from 868 cases per 100,000.
Jefferson County reported 53 new cases, bringing its total since the pandemic began from 4,029 to 4,082 with a case rate of 857 per 100,000, down form 923 cases per 100,000.
Both counties saw significant decreases in their case rates, which are a reflection of cases reported during a two-week period. They are computed using a formula based on 100,000 population even for counties that do not have 100,000 people living in them.
Berry cautioned that the region could experience a bump in COVID case numbers due to a delay in case reporting from the Memorial Day weekend, but she predicted that, by and large, the Peninsula soon will begin to see a decrease in cases.
Nevertheless, Berry and other regional health officers are asking the public to continue to wear masks when in tight spaces or indoors to continue to prevent the severe spread of the virus.
Paxlovid, an antiviral medication, is used to attempt to keep high-risk patients out of the hospital. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning of potential “COVID-19 rebound” after a five-day course of the treatment.
“People who experience rebound are at risk of transmitting to other people, even though they’re outside what people accept as the usual window for being able to transmit,” Dr. Michael Charness of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Boston told CNN.
Berry said it occurs rarely but has been known to happen that people get better, then get worse.
“Paxlovid was never intended to make the virus go away,” Berry said.
“We just know about it because we were testing it. Its main job is to keep people from getting severely ill.”
Berry also encouraged area students to finish strong and continue masking at school so the Class of 2022 has a chance to celebrate graduation this year.
“We are getting very close to the end of the school year, and we are really trying to encourage mask-wearing, particularly in school settings, just to try and make sure we limit any further disruption to the school year for kids,” Berry said.
“We really want all of our seniors to be able to go to graduation and not contract COVID-19.”
Berry said she is encouraging school district superintendents to conduct graduation ceremonies and other end-of-year events outside when possible.
“Our recommendation is to do outdoor graduations, if possible, depending upon the weather and each school’s facilities. For something that’s going to draw a lot of people, if it can be done outdoors, it should be,” Berry said.
Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].