Clallam County Public Health reported the fifth COVID-19-related death in the county on Wednesday.
A woman in her 70s who had underlying health conditions died, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.
The woman had contracted the novel coronavirus a month before dying on Monday in her home, Berry said.
It was reported to officials Tuesday evening, she said.
The woman’s existing health conditions were spurred into a decline after she contracted the coronavirus. She decided not to seek hospital care after the COVID-19 diagnosis and was eventually placed on hospice care in her home, Berry said.
“A loss of a family member is always tragic, but it can be a particularly lonely experience for families losing someone to COVID-19,” Berry said. “We send our most heartfelt thoughts to her family.”
The death was the seventh related to COVID-19 on the North Olympic Peninsula; Jefferson County has had two deaths.
Also on Wednesday, Clallam County confirmed three new cases of COVID-19, while Jefferson County held steady with no new cases for the second day in a row, according to county public health data.
Two of the recent cases in Clallam are part of the residential-setting outbreak that Clallam County Public Health has been investigating, raising the total number of cases to nine, while the third case was under investigation Wednesday, Berry said.
Berry and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, have previously stated they will not release a location publicly if their departments are able to effectively trace potential contact exposures.
Locke attributed the rise in cases seen last week to clusters, and while the relative quiet of the past two days has let the staff catch up on other work, it’s too soon to tell if Jefferson County is seeing a true downward trend.
“This is kind of the nature of the pandemic,” Locke said. “We get surges and then lows.
“We welcome a breather, but I wouldn’t generalize it at this point. There’s so many variables I wouldn’t make predictions.”
While statewide cases are on a decline from the peak in January, case rates are still higher than they were in the spring and summer waves, and could easily begin climbing again if people relax about wearing masks, practicing social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and washing hands often, Locke said.
“There is still a lot around, and all it takes is people letting down their guard,” he added.
Clallam County’s test positivity — the percentage of tests returned positive — rose from 3.6 percent for Jan. 16-30 to 5.5 percent for Jan. 17-31, and Berry believed that was due to outbreak investigation testing and should drop again soon, she said.
Jefferson County’s test positivity was 4.46 percent in for Jan. 25-31.
So far this month, Clallam County has confirmed five cases of COVID-19, about 0.53 percent of the 941 cases confirmed since last March, according to Clallam County Public Health data.
Jefferson County has confirmed four cases of COVID-19, about 1.3 percent of the 307 it has confirmed since last March, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.
Forty-five COVID-19 cases were active as of Wednesday in Clallam County, with one person hospitalized.
Jefferson County had 22 active cases.
Clallam County’s case rate was 83 per 100,000 for the past two weeks as of Wednesday, while Jefferson County’s case rate was 106.58 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Sunday, according to county public health data.
Both counties are in the state’s high-risk category.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].