PORT ANGELES — Clallam County reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and Saturday, an uptick especially worrisome in light of the recent surge of cases statewide, while Jefferson County reported one new case Friday and none Saturday.
Clallam County reported three new COVID-19 positives Friday and five more Saturday for eight new positives in two days. That gives the county a total of 299 cases since March.
Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank said the five new cases Saturday were all household contacts of other recent cases. The infection rate was listed Saturday at 26 per 100,000 over the past two weeks. There are currently 16 active cases in Clallam County.
Two Clallam County COVID-19 patients remain hospitalized.
Unthank said at her weekly COVID-19 update Friday that the recent batch of new cases “are somewhat complex” because of workplace exposures. She said most of these cases are related to people traveling out of county.
“There is some risk with our recent cases that we could see a rise going forward,” she said Friday before the five new cases were reported Saturday.
Unthank said she is seeing signs of people relaxing their precautions in the workplace but with massive upticks of cases in some surrounding counties, “now is the time to double down on workplace precautions.”
Unthank said the good news is that there continue to no cases transmitted through schools that have been opened to in-person instruction.
“We do think we can increase access to in-person learning,” she said.
Jefferson County has had 92 cases since March with five active cases and a listed infection rate of 25.08 per 100,000 over the past two weeks.
In other COVID-19 developments:
For the second time, there has been a positive case at Olympic Medical Center, OMC announced Friday.
One positive was reported. OMC has “commenced contact tracing processes as appropriate and the investigation revealed no problems,” according to an OMC press release.
“We are pleased to report that staff properly adhered to PPE guidelines,” said Jennifer Burkhardt, OMC chief human resources officer.
“Our employees’ steadfast commitment to [personal protection equipment] usage with patients and each other was apparent and was effective in minimizing the opportunity for further spread while at work.”
Several months ago, two OMC employees tested positive for COVID-19. The virus was limited to those two OMC workers.
Clallam and Jefferson counties, and the state of Washington, are all preparing the first batch of a COVID-19 vaccine to arrive possibly as early as mid-December.
Unthank talked about the vaccine at her weekly COVID-19 update Friday. She said small amounts of vaccine for health care providers are expected in mid-December.
“Early next year, there will be tiers of who gets the vaccine first,” she said.
She said health care providers, first responders and people in long-term care facilities will be among the first to receive a vaccine.
Locke said there is a “wild card” to this vaccine.
He said approvals are being streamlined through an emergency-use authorization process, but that the state Department of Health also will have its own review to make sure the vaccine is safe. While the manufacturing of the vaccine is expected to be done soon, those approvals could take longer than hoped.
On Nov. 2, the Department of Health opened enrollment for the COVID-19 vaccination program, collaborating with the Washington State Hospital Association and health care coalitions.
Unthank reiterated at her Friday briefing that people may have to change some of their normal holiday plans with COVID-19 on the increase. There were 1,600 new positives reported in Washington state on Friday and 120,000 nationally.
“Holidays have to look different this year,” she said.
”Flying from across the country and gathering from multiple households at a dinner table is an incredibly dangerous thing to do tight now.
“I strongly recommend citizens do not travel for the holidays.”