In Jefferson County, county and Port Townsend city officials have closed administrative offices deemed non-essential. (Peninsula Daily News file)

In Jefferson County, county and Port Townsend city officials have closed administrative offices deemed non-essential. (Peninsula Daily News file)

Jefferson County government agencies close offices to public

Peninsula case count increases to five

PORT TOWNSEND — A fifth case of COVID-19 has been confirmed on the North Olympic Peninsula, this one in Clallam County.

The confirmed case in Clallam County is that county’s first. Four cases have been confirmed in Jefferson County residents. All are considered to have contracted the disease through out-of-county exposure.

No deaths have been reported on the Peninsula.

Clallam County’s announcement came the same day that Black Ball Ferry Line declared a suspension of service between Port Angeles and Victoria from March 30-April 30 due to the coronavirus.

In Jefferson County, 242 patients have been tested, with 103 negatives and 135 tests still pending, according to Jefferson County Public Health.

“Unfortunately, we expect to see more cases of COVID-19 in our county in the coming days and weeks, especially as testing has become more available,” Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County public health officer, said in a press release Tuesday.

The Clallam County man, in his 60s, was exposed through a King County connection, county Health and Human Services said Wednesday in a press release.

“He is at home in isolation and doing well,” Emergency Operations Center spokesperson Peter Raiswell said in an interview.

As of Wednesday, 102 tests had been conducted on Clallam County residents with 19 coming back negative and 82 pending, according to Clallam County Health and Human services.

In Jefferson County, county and Port Townsend city officials have closed administrative offices deemed non-essential.

The Jefferson County Public Utility District (PUD) also has closed its offices to the public. Customers can pay by mail or phone or access a number of account services at jeffpud.org, said Will O’Donnell, communications manager.

The PUD has suspended utility shut-offs for the time being, and are planning to work with customers who are facing difficulties, said Kevin Streett at an emergency meeting Wednesday.

Those who need assistance are urged to call 360-385-5800 to make payment arrangements. Customer service will answer calls from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Olympic National Park shut down visitor center offices Tuesday, closing Hurricane Ridge Road at the Heart ‘O The Hills entrance station, although hiking trails remained open.

Safeway stores — there are two in Port Angeles, one in Sequim and one in Port Townsend — will begin reserving 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for seniors over 60 and other shoppers vulnerable to the coronavirus, such as pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems and those advised to stay at home, Albertsons, Safeway’s parent company, said Wednesday.

Port Townsend City Hall, the Mountain View campus, Port Townsend Public Library, the Cotton Building and the Pope Marine Building are all closed to the public. The front doors of all city facilities will be closed and facility rentals will be postponed indefinitely.

Restrooms in park facilities and the Cotton Building will remain open and undergo a more aggressive cleaning and sanitation regime.

All department services will be done by phone and electronically when possible.

Many services are already available online, including live streaming of City Council meetings. City staff members also are piloting new virtual services such as meetings with Development Services and other departments by video and live streaming, officials said.

In exceptional cases, the public may be able to schedule appointments for specific needs on a case-by-case basis.

Jefferson County administrative offices are closed to the public except for essential services such as the courts, law enforcement, road maintenance and solid waste, officials announced on Facebook Tuesday evening.

The public can still attend open public meetings but officials are encouraging residents to watch the live-stream of the meetings on AV Capture.

County operations will still continue through phone, email, websites and dropboxes, and in limited circumstances, by prearranged appointments, county officials said.

The Local Investing Opportunities Network (LION) has established a new loan program for Jefferson County businesses and nonprofits needing funding to deal with the COVID-19 emergency. The loan application and instructions are downloadable from the the LION website at L2020.org/lion. A fast-track process has been established to handle the applications, LION officials said.

LION is a network that connects business and nonprofits seeking financing with over 60 local investors. Since 2006 LION members have invested in over 75 Jefferson County businesses and nonprofits.

Jefferson Healthcare hospital staff screens respiratory illness patients separately from the others in a dedicated COVID-19/Repiratory Illness Evaluation Station which expanded to offer drive-thru testing on Tuesday, said Amy Yaley, Jefferson Healthcare communications director.

All testing is by appointment only. People who believe they need to be tested must call the COVID-19/Respiratory Illness Nurse Consult Line at 360-344-3094.

The calls are returned between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. seven days a week. People who are experiencing mild respiratory and cold symptoms are discouraged from seeking care at the hospital’s emergency department without consulting with the nurse line, Yaley said.

The Humane Society of Jefferson County is still open but staff members, who have increased sanitation practices, are encouraging the public to stay home when possible.

Dog licensing and other business can be done on online at hsjcwa.org/license-your-dog, said Ellen Heinemann, board of directors vice president.

Those who want to adopt an animals are urged to use the Petfinder listings at hsjcwa.org/adoptapet, and email or call the shelter at 360-385-3292 to set up an appointment to meet the animals.

“If we can limit visitors to the shelter to only persons turning in strays or surrendering their animals, or persons who have communicated with staff regarding an adoptable animal, our ultimate goal of sanitizing door handles and surfaces between visitors — ultimately keeping us all safer — will be achievable, even for our little shelter with few staff members,” Heinemann said.

Locke again urged community members to work together “to slow the spread of this illness and protect our neighbors who are most at risk.

“We are asking all Jefferson County residents to stay calm, stay informed and take steps to protect their health and the health of those around them,” he continued.

“It is very important to stay home when you are sick and we encourage community members to assist friends and family who may need to stay home.”

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at zj[email protected].

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