COVID infections plateau on Peninsula

Moderate risk in Clallam; high risk in Jefferson

COVID-19 cases are plateauing on the North Olympic Peninsula after a steady decline in Clallam County case rates this summer while Jefferson County remained in the high-risk category.

Dr. Allison Berry, the health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties, said the latest numbers are reflective of the status of the rest of the state.

“This is actually parallel to other state data,” Berry said Friday.

“At the state level, we were seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases and now there is a plateau and in some places we are seeing increases though those cases are mostly associated with the return to school,” she added.

Clallam County reported, as of Friday, 68 new cases since Sept. 20.

That brought its total cases since the pandemic began to 15,577.

The present case rate is 170 cases per 100,000, keeping the county in the moderate risk category for COVID-19 transmission.

Last month, Clallam County had dropped into the state’s moderate-risk category from high-risk for the first time since April with a case rate below 200 per 100,000 population in a two-week period.

Jefferson County also reported as of Friday 68 new cases since Sept. 20, bringing its total cases to 5,853 since the pandemic began.

The present case rate is 370 per 100,000, keeping the county in the high risk category for COVID-19 transmission.

Case rates 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 said the disparity in cases between Clallam and Jefferson is largely driven by recent infection.

“Clallam County was hit more severely with the BA.4 and BA.5 variant. That is, more people got it in recent months and because we haven’t seen a lot of shift in the virus, which is providing pretty good immunity against current transmission, so if you have got COVID-19 in either county since June it’s likely to be one of those variants,” she said.

“In Jefferson, far fewer people were infected in the last few months so we are seeing some of those infections happen now, especially as people move indoors and kids go back to school,” Berry said.

Berry anticipates an increase in cases as temperatures decline and more people move indoors without masking.

“The big question is, will we see a surge in severe disease and that’s not really clear at this point,” Berry said.

”It would really depend on if we saw a spike and a new variant circulating in our community.”

Berry, along with other health officials, continue to encourage people to get vaccinated as well as recommending masking indoors in high-risk areas.

“Bivalent booster is available and we have adequate supplies in both counties to vaccinate anyone who is eligible regardless of risk status. So everyone 12 and up, if it has been more than two months since their last vaccine or infection, is eligible,” Berry said.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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