Jefferson County is considering holding on to the emergency declaration it put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic even though the state orders will be lifted at the end of the month.
“We are being cautious at this moment,” Commissioner Kate Dean said on Monday.
Individual counties have the ability to decide when to lift their restrictions, specifically for returning to in-person meetings and masking or vaccination requirements for county personnel, the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners discussed on Monday.
The county may keep its emergency orders in place until next spring.
“We are expecting a surge of cases in the fall and winter, so I think this is a safe move for now,” said Dr. Allison Berry, the health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.
Clallam County commissioners have yet to discuss their next steps upon the lifting of the statewide restrictions.
Berry believes it is unlikely Clallam will take the same action as Jefferson.
“My guess is their emergency orders will expire at the same time as the state’s, but that decision will be made by the commissioners,” Berry said.
The state emergency orders expire on Oct. 31.
Jefferson County remained in the high-risk category for COVID-19 transmission with a case rate of 488 per 100,000 population over the past two weeks.
The county added 66 cases, bringing its total to 6,027 cases since the pandemic began.
Berry said schools continue to be the main driver for increasing case numbers in Jefferson County.
“Jefferson doesn’t have the level of population immunity that others do, because it did such a good job controlling the virus before, but thankfully that has prevented a lot of severe diseases,” she said.
Case rates in Clallam County continue to trend down as it remained in the moderate-risk category with a case rate of 147 per 100,000. It added 61 new cases, bringing its total to 15,697 since the pandemic began.
Case rates are a reflection of cases reported during a two-week period.
They are computed using a formula based on 100,000 population even for counties that do not have 100,000 people living in them.
No new hospitalizations or deaths from the virus were reported in either county.
Although the restrictions will be lifted, Berry and other health officials continue to recommend masking indoors and that people get vaccinated and boosted.
“We have adequate supplies of the Bivalent boosters, though the waits for those can be a little long at the pharmacies to get them right now, but we do have enough, so please do make an appointment,” Berry said.
Reporter Ken Park can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.