The surge in North Olympic Peninsula COVID-19 cases that followed the Fourth of July weekend appears to have stopped or at least slowed, public health officials said.
Neither Clallam nor Jefferson counties have reported any new confirmed cases in days — since Wednesday in Jefferson and since Thursday in Clallam.
Fourth of July gatherings were blamed for a spike in confirmed cases in both counties. Clallam County’s total since March grew from 50 cases on July 9 to 68 cases by Thursday. Jefferson’s total grew from 41 to 50 cases by Wednesday.
“That’s very hopeful,” said Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank. “The Fourth of July was a problem.”
Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said that, given the 14-day maximum incubation period for COVID-19, it would make sense that the surge from that weekend would be petering out about now.
He said the fact that the number of new cases wasn’t greater is a testament to the counties identifying cases early and reacting quickly to quarantine contacts.
Two patients who had been hospitalized in Clallam County with the virus have been discharged, according to Unthank.
The total case count between the two counties stands at 118.
Locke said that the Jefferson Health Department will be working with schools during this next week to develop a plan to reopen schools safely in the fall.
Unthank urged people to be respectful and understanding toward those who enter into quarantine because either they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have come in contact with someone who has tested positive.
“I talked about the need to treat people with compassion,” she said.
She said there’s been reports of people being harassed by neighbors or on Facebook for entering into quarantine and that people need to understand a person in quarantine is making sacrifices for the good of the community.
“It’s a scary enough virus as it is,” she said.
Unthank was also encouraged that compliance with masking directives appears to have improved in the county. There are no firm numbers but an unofficial survey on masking from the Sequim area showed compliance running 95 percent to 96 percent.
She also said it’s encouraging that the rate of new infections in Yakima finally seems to be slowing down.
Yakima County has a staggering 9,200 positive cases in a county of 250,000, with up to 370 new cases a day early last week. By Friday, Yakima had 73 new cases.
She said it appears Yakima is “getting things under control,” but now a new hot spot is developing in Spokane, which had 130 new positive cases Friday in a county of 480,000 people.
Locke said that most in Jefferson County are wearing masks as business owners are realizing that they don’t want to return to stricter restrictions similar to Phase 1, in which most businesses were shut down.
“I think the community is realizing that this is an existential threat to their businesses,” he said.
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peninsula Daily News reporter Ken Park contributed to this story.