Most COVID-19 cases at long-term care facility outbreak tied to one person

Officials waiting for 1B, 1C designations

One more COVID-19 positive connected to an outbreak at a Clallam County long-term care facility was reported Monday, raising the total number of cases tied to the facility to 19.

Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry Unthank said 18 of the cases have been traced to a single employee.

“We’re not seeing cases of ongoing transmission, which is good,” she said in a Monday interview.

Berry Unthank said 10 staff and nine residents of the care facility have tested positive for COVID-19.

In all, Clallam County reported five new positives Monday, giving it 766 cases since the pandemic began last March. The county has 52 active cases and one person in the hospital. A previously hospitalized patient has been discharged, according to public health data.

The Clallam County infection rate is 121 per 100,000 population during the past two weeks, down from much of November and December but still in the state’s high-risk category. The test positivity rate is 2.7 percent, although it was higher — 4.9 percent — from Dec. 18 to Jan. 1.

Jefferson County has reported 233 total cases since last March, with five additional cases reported late Monday. The county has as many as 19 active cases in isolation.

The Jefferson County infection rate has grown from 62.70 per 100,000 last week as there have been 13 positives since Thursday. The test positivity rate is 1.48 percent, and the infection rate is 87.77 per 100,000, in the state’s moderate-risk range.

Jefferson and Clallam counties may break the 1,000-case barrier combined today. The North Olympic Peninsula counties have reported a total of 999 COVID-19 positives since last March.

Vaccinations

Berry Unthank said Clallam County will finish vaccinating members of the 1A group this week. These people include first responders, frontline health care workers and patients and staff at long-term care facilities.

Clallam and Jefferson counties continue to wait word from the state Department of Health on which specific groups will be included in the 1B and 1C designations, the next to receive vaccinations. Likely members of the 1B group may include people older than 75 and people with high-risk underlying health problems such as diabetes, cancer or other immunity deficiencies.

“There’s so many people deserving,” Berry Unthank said.

Other essential workers such as grocery store employees may end up in the 1C group.

Berry Unthank said the 1B group vaccinations could begin as early as mid-January.

“Age is probably the most significant factor,” Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke told the Board of County Commissioners at his weekly update Monday.

Locke said local officials have been hoping to receive official word from the state on the 1B and 1C designations.

“We need them sooner rather than later,” he said.

Locke also said Jefferson County has administered 970 vaccines so far and has 980 ready to go for a second round of shots for first responders. He said a second shipment of vaccines is expected possibly as early as today.

“We’ve vaccinated 61 percent of our 1A group,” he said. “We don’t think we’ll get to 100 percent. We don’t think 100 percent will consent.”

Locke said there a state website called Phase Finder will help tell Washington residents where they might be in line for the vaccine. That site is expected to go online as early as Wednesday.

In addition to information regarding 1B and 1C vaccine categories, schools also are waiting guidance from the state in the next day or two regarding new metrics for allowing athletics and extra-curricular activities at schools.

Holidays

Berry Unthank said there hasn’t been a noticeable uptick in Clallam County from the holiday period, but she stressed it’s too early to tell if there will be a case surge from people traveling.

“It’s still pretty early,” she said. “We can’t get too excited yet.

Berry Unthank said no one has reported directly to her anything about large New Year’s Eve parties, but she hoped people didn’t hold large gatherings for the holiday.

“I hope people would keep gatherings small and outside,” she said.

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Sports editor Pierre LaBossiere can be reached by email at [email protected]

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