Covid in Clallam County: Record case numbers overall; jail and OMC report staff positives

As Clallam County reports its highest COVID-19 case rate since the pandemic began, the county jail is managing an outbreak among staff and Olympic Medical Center reports four outpatient clinic employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Clallam County set a new record on Friday for the highest case rate the county has recorded since the start of the pandemic. Friday’s case rate was 217 cases per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.

The second highest case rate was recorded in November 2020 during the holiday season surge, with a case rate 216 cases per 100,000, Berry said.

Jefferson County has reached 147.34 cases per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of July 31, the second highest case rate it has reported since the pandemic began and Berry expects that it will increase on Monday, when the new case rate is calculated, she said.

Jefferson County’s highest case rate of 156 per 100,000 was also recorded last November during the holiday season surge, Berry said.

Clallam County added nine new COVID-19 cases on Friday, raising its total number of cases to 1,768 since the pandemic began, according to public health data.

Jefferson County added seven new COVID-19 cases Friday, raising its total number of cases to 541 since the pandemic began, according to public health data.

The health officer said that it is believed that one of the staff members at the Clallam County jail was exposed to COVID-19 by a family member outside of the facility and then infected three other staff members.

Three of the four staff members are unvaccinated, with one breakthrough case of the fourth staff member being fully vaccinated.

No inmates tested positive after the first round of testing completed and testing of staff and inmates will continue each week until the outbreak is over, Berry said Friday.

“We’re working very closely with the sheriff’s department to limit spread,” Berry said. “The sheriff’s department has actually been very proactive in participating with our department on limiting spread.

“I was just in a meeting with them (Friday) morning to make sure they’re doing everything possible to limit transmission.”

Clallam County set a new record on Friday for the highest case rate the county has recorded since the start of the pandemic. Friday’s case rate was 217 cases per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior, Berry said.

Sheriff Bill Benedict said Friday that the jail does daily testing of staff members and weekly testing of inmates, who also are checked for vaccination status when they arrive.

“We have been very religious in protocols of masking and isolating our inmates,” Benedict said.

“As soon as we got the first reports in we acted very aggressively to protect the inmates as well as the rest of the staff.

“I think we nipped this thing in the bud.”

On Aug. 4, four Olympic Medical Center (OMC) employees tested positive for COVID-19, said Bobby Beeman, OMC spokesperson.

Although all four work in the same outpatient clinic, some of the personnel have living and social circumstances outside of work where it is suspected that the virus was contracted through community-based exposure, Beeman said in an email late Thursday afternoon.

All four employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Only three are exhibiting any symptoms and none seriously ill at this time, Beeman said.

Extensive contract tracing is currently underway so the area of the organization is currently closed, but health care transmission is believed to be unlikely due to extensive safety protocols and personal protective equipment usage, Beeman said.

“We’d like to emphasize that we err on the side of extreme caution during contract tracing and when precluding employees from work,” stated Darryl Wolfe, chief executive officer, Olympic Medical Center.

“We recognize that closing any clinical area for a couple days is disruptive for patients. However, our priority is to minimize any potential transmission of COVID-19 in our facilities.”

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at zjablonski@peninsuladailynews.com.

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