Long-term-care facility outbreaks apparently decreasing

Monoclonal antibodies shortage over

The largest COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term-care facility on the North Olympic Peninsula since August has had no new cases since Sept. 26 and if a second round of testing with no positives is completed, it will be considered to be over.

Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties, said Wednesday that the outbreak, which began in August in Clallam County, at its peak had 36 residents with COVID-19. One week of negative testing has been done. If the next week’s round of testing is negative, then the outbreak will be considered to be at an end.

Four people died during that outbreak.

The most recent outbreak in a long-term care facility has 13 confirmed cases, with no new cases since the weekend. Another facility has reported seven cases and another, six cases.

One other facility has had only one confirmed case. It is considered an outbreak because, if the means of transmission isn’t apparent, “we figure there’s a source in the facility that we don’t know about,” Berry said.

No fatalities from the disease have been reported at these four facilities, Berry said.

All the long-term-care facility outbreaks at present are in Clallam County; none are in Jefferson County.

Berry does not identify the long-term-care facilities, or other businesses, with outbreaks unless it is considered necessary for conducting contact tracing.

Monoclonial antibodies

A shortage of monoclonal antibodies is over.

Monoclonial antibodies is one of the treatments used to treat people with COVID-19 who are at risk of developing severe disease.

A temporary national shortage of about three weeks has ended because the state has caught up and demand in Clallam County has decreased, Berry said. Residents of long-term-care facilities who have been exposed to the virus are being treated with them as the county works with Jim’s Pharmacy to bring in the medicine, she added.

“We’ve seen a lot of success in stemming outbreaks” in long-term-care facilities using monoclonial antibodies, Berry said.

COVID-19 outbreaks in schools have led to forced school closures in Pierce, Kittitas and Grays Harbor counties, according to state Superintendent Chris Reykdal, but Berry does not foresee that as likely in Clallam or Jefferson counties.

Three incidences of transmission have been reported in Clallam County public schools, she said.

“We have not seen widespread transmission in Clallam County schools,” Berry said.

Brinnon in Jefferson County had nine students reported infected with COVID-19 earlier this month in what was called a cluster rather than an outbreak because the students had multiple overlaps in interactions in and out of school between family and friends.

Investigation traced most transmission to the long bus rides necessary for the students in the rural school.

“What all the staff did was fantastic but they couldn’t control transmission on buses,” Berry said.

No new cases have been reported since the first round of negative testing was completed Friday. One more week of negative testing and the cluster will be determined to be resolved.

No new cases were reported at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center.

Nineteen more cases of COVID-19 were reported in Clallam County on Wednesday, bringing the number of cases in the county since the pandemic began to 4,562. The case rate is at 512 per 100,100 for the past two weeks, which is down from the case rate of 530 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Tuesday. Seven people are hospitalized, five at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles and two at hospitals outside the county, Berry said.

Two more cases were reported in Jefferson County on Wednesday. One is hospitalized.

Total deaths since the pandemic began are 53 in Clallam County and 16 in Jefferson County.

“We are glad to see the numbers coming down,” Berry said. “Clallam is improving” along with Jefferson, “but more slowly.”

She explained the difference in the two counties by noting Jefferson’s higher vaccination rate and that health officials are “seeing less compliance with protocol,” in Clallam County, “especially on the West End.”

Booster shots

For the population at large, mass-vaccination clinics for Pfizer booster shots will be occurring in both counties. While appointments can be made online, there are phone numbers to call for help, too: 360-417-2430 in Clallam County and 360-344-9791 in Jefferson County.

Those who received Pfizer shots earlier this year or in late 2020 — and are older than 65 or work in a high-risk setting such as a school, grocery store or health care facility, or have an underlying medical condition — are eligible for a booster.

Clallam County’s booster clinic at Port Angeles High School, 304 E. Park Ave., is from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Appointments can be made here.

In Jefferson County, Saturday clinics from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Blue Heron Middle School, 3939 San Juan Ave. in Port Townsend, have waiting lists. Appointments can be made here.

Pharmacies and some primary care clinics also offer the Pfizer booster in both counties.

On Oct. 23, another clinic is planned at Quilcene School, 294715 U.S. Highway 101, Quilcene, with appointments made here. That clinic will be open from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

People should bring hard copies of their vaccination cards to booster appointments. If one needs a duplicate, it can be obtained online at wa.myir.net.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].

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