A 15th person, unvaccinated and the youngest victim so far, has died from COVID-19 in Clallam County, where the full vaccination rate remains steady at about half the population, Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry said.
The coronavirus fatality, a woman in her 30s, had asthma and contracted the UK variant through social contact with an infected person who was hospitalized and has recovered, Berry said.
Berry does not release COVID-19 victims’ ages and where they live.
“She got very sick very quickly, and unfortunately it’s an incredible loss to our community to lose someone so young,” Berry said Friday.
The death brings to 19 the total number of deaths reported to be due to COVID-19 on the North Olympic Peninsula since the beginning of the pandemic. Four have been reported in Jefferson County.
From Wednesday to noon Friday, the number of Clallam County residents with the coronavirus grew by 10 from to 1,493 cases, 1,439 of whom have recovered. Those hospitalized dropped from five Wednesday to two Friday.
Updates on cases and other statistics in both Clallam and Jefferson counties are not available on weekends.
Clallam County vaccinations stood Friday at 52 percent of the population and 59 percent of those 12 and older.
Those receiving at least one dose comprise 56 percent of the total population and 64 percent of those 12 and older.
“We have not seen a dramatic uptick in vaccinations,” Berry said.
Jefferson County saw five new cases reported Thursday and two Friday, raising the total to 462.
That will increase the county’s rate per 100,000 population although not dramatically, Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke aid Saturday.
Ten people are isolated with the virus and one is in the hospital.
The newest cases are occurring in clusters, Locke said. Of the seven Thursday and Friday, five were in the same household.
“That’s what we’re seeing more and more,” Locke said.
There also is more home testing, leading Locke to speculate that there are COVID-19 infections that are not reported, urging those who test positive for the coronavirus to contact the health department.
“We know how to isolate, we know what they are supposed to do to quarantine and when they need medical care,” Locke said.
All new Jefferson County cases continue to be among the unvaccinated.
“What we are seeing is the bifurcation of the pandemic,” Locke said.
“Everything is better for people who are vaccinated and nothing is improving and probably the risk is going up for people who are unvaccinated.”
Locke said attitudes among those who are unvaccinated are hardening at a time when the Delta variant is spreading.
“Almost certainly, they are going to get the infection,” he said of the unvaccinated.
“Almost all will be infected within the next six months, and most will be with the Delta variant.”
The Delta variant is highly transmissible in indoor sports settings and households, and has a potentially higher rate of transmission than other variants, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Locke suggested that unvaccinated individuals prepare a plan for what they will do when they are infected and who will take care of them.
“Anything we were doing to protect people we’ve stopped doing or we are not able to do,” he said.
He said for the unvaccinated, a cloth mask is 30 percent filtration efficient, a surgical mask 60 percent and a tight-fitting N95 mask is far better the cloth or surgical coverings. Protection is added by not touching your face.
“Anything less than [intensive care unit] standards starts to add risks,” he said.
“Covid is not going away, and it’s getting more infectious.”
Locke said he is still hearing people repeating myths about vaccination. They include attributing thousands of deaths a day to the vaccine when no medical link has been established.
“We’re seeing a really aggressive push by anti-vaccination folks to try to persuade other people to not take a very safe vaccine,” Locke said.
“I question the ethics of that.”
In Jefferson County, 65 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, and 70 percent of the over-12 population is vaccinated.
The county’s vaccination rate remains the second highest is Washington state.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.