PORT TOWNSEND — A Jefferson County man diagnosed with COVID-19 has been transferred to Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, becoming the first of the North Olympic Peninsula’s 11 confirmed cases to be in critical care.
The man in his 40s — a new case — was in the Intensive Care Unit in critical condition on Sunday, said Dr. Tom Locke, the county’s health officer.
Also, the state announced that all state parks and Department of Natural Resources campgrounds and cabins have been closed to the public. That affects the Sequim Bay, Bogachiel, Fort Townsend, Fort Worden, Kinney Point, Fort Flagler, Mystery Bay, Shine Tidelands, Triton Cove, Ramblewood and Dosewallips state parks in Jefferson and Clallam counties.
Clallam County likewise closed campgrounds. County parks that were closed Sunday include the Dungeness Recreational Area and Salt Creek Recreational Area.
Camp David Jr. facilities will be closed until May 15, and the county fairgrounds will be closed until May 17.
All county day-use areas and day-use areas at Dungeness and Salt Creek parks will remain open for now.
There were no new COVID-19 cases reported in Clallam County on Sunday.
As of Saturday, there were 367 people tested for the virus Jefferson County with 122 negative results and 239 pending.
Due to the volume of tests conducted around the state, it can take up to a week for the county to receive test results.
Locke said people who suffer critical symptoms develop them about 14 days after they become infected.
He added that studies done so far and observations from Europe show about 80 percent of those who are infected get better after about 14 days. The other 20 percent become more ill and usually require hospitalization with severe or critical symptoms.
Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry Unthank said the contact people for two most recent cases identified Saturday have been pinned down.
One person who contracted it locally is in the same home as someone who had been previously diagnosed. The other person was connected to a contact in King County, she said.
One issue that has local health officers concerned is people traveling to Clallam and Jefferson counties. Locke and Unthank said that was discussed in a conference call Sunday morning.
Both officials said it’s happening in rural areas all around the state and not unique to the North Olympic Peninsula.
“There’s a big push to restrict travel,” Locke said. “I predict they’re going to get serious about this.”
As of Sunday, Gov. Jay Inslee had not issued a stay-at-home order like several other governors nationwide. But he has urged people to stay at home as much as possible.
“This is concerning,” Unthank said. “We don’t encourage” people traveling out of county. “The governor’s orders were never meant for people to travel.”
Unthank said that can especially be a problem for rural counties.
“We have fewer COVID-19 resources,” she said. “This is a common issue in a lot of rural areas.”
Unthank said it’s still all right for people to go for a walk on the Olympic Discovery Trail or other places for now, but she advised them to stay mindful about social distancing.
“You’re free to go for a walk, but just don’t spend a lot of time close to other people,” she said. “When you’re getting gas, avoid excessive contact with others.”
Changes in Jefferson
Beginning today, Jefferson Healthcare will implement temperature screening for everyone who enters Jefferson Healthcare Medical Center and its clinics.
The policy will apply to everyone, including employees, providers, student volunteers and agency staff, and it will be conducted before the start of all employee shifts.
Anyone with a temperature equal to or greater than 100.4 will be masked and asked to return to their car and call the nurse consult line at 360-344-3094 for COVID-19 screening.
It is also strongly encouraged that everyone practices social distancing while in line waiting for the screening.
Jefferson Healthcare is experiencing the statewide effects of a shortage of COVID-19 testing supplies. It is unable to test on-demand or asymptomatic patients in order to follow testing protocols and guidelines from the state Department of Health, according to a news release.
For people who have symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, it is strongly recommended to stay home and self-isolate, and call the COVID-19 nurse consult line for screening.
“For individuals who are sick [fevers with cough or shortness of breath], isolating at home whether they have tested or not is important,” said Dr. Joe Mattern, chief medical officer at Jefferson Healthcare.
“It is ideal to stay at home and isolate for up to 72 hours after they feel well again,” he said. “In particular, no fever. If someone has tested for COVID-19, then they should be self-isolating at home until they receive results or have been well for 72 hours.”
Mattern reinforced how important it is for family and household members of people who are awaiting COVID-19 test results to limit their movement in the community and minimize contacts to essential activities until they have results, even if they do not show symptoms.