COVID, tuberculosis outbreaks grow at Clallam Bay prison

The outbreaks of COVID-19 and tuberculosis at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center continue to grow, as officials try to limit the spread of the unrelated respiratory diseases.

A total of 32 people are sick in connection to the facility, with 16 each of COVID-19 patients and tuberculosis patients being confirmed as of Wednesday, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Berry said she did not have the information on Wednesday as to the inmate verses staff numbers in the Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC) outbreak.

“There’s quite a lot of irons in the fire at the moment,” she said. “Tuberculosis outbreaks are a little different. Tuberculosis is much less transmissible than COVID.

“You tend to have to be with someone for multiple hours in close proximity for tuberculosis. COVID is much more easily spread.”

There are other outbreaks in both Clallam and Jefferson counties, such as a gym outbreak now in Clallam County that has at least 10 cases attributed to it and an outbreak as a result of an indoor wedding in Jefferson County, Berry said.

But she said she is unable to keep a running tally of the number of cases at the smaller outbreaks due to the sheer number of cases being confirmed daily across the North Olympic Peninsula, as well as the many small outbreaks now being tracked.

“We identify these large-scale outbreaks and support them with testing outreach, communication outreach to those who are exposed,” she said.

“But we’re not able to keep our constant tally running as much because we provide them that support, get them the testing support, provide them with what they need and then move on to the next outbreak, unfortunately.”

Due to the significant amount of virus activity, outbreaks at long-term care facilities and congregate settings such as jails and prisons still have heavy involvement and resources by county public health workers, due to the high potential of spread and severe cases as a result, Berry said.

Clallam County confirmed 73 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, raising its total number of cases to 2,344 since the pandemic began, according to public health data.

Jefferson County confirmed eight new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, raising its total number of cases to 654 since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.

Since the beginning of February, 16.6 percent of new COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County have been among fully vaccinated residents, according to county data.

During that same time period, 11.2 percent of new COVID-19 cases in Clallam County have been among fully vaccinated residents, according to county data.

The majority of break-though cases — cases among fully vaccinated people — have mild symptoms, and are largely household contacts of confirmed cases who are unvaccinated, Berry said.

Jefferson has a higher vaccination rate than Clallam, and as such, having a higher percentage of breakthrough cases is not surprising, Berry said.

However Jefferson County’s population is smaller, so the smaller data pool will affect overall statistics when comparing the two counties, she added.

Clallam County set a new record for its case rate Thursday, with the rate rising to 550 cases per 100,000 for the last two weeks as of Thursday, according to public health data.

Jefferson County calculates its case rate weekly, and it reported its highest case rate on Monday of 263.32 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.

Berry continues to urge residents to avoid indoor gatherings, get vaccinated as soon as possible and wear masks while indoors.

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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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