Nearly 100 COVID cases tied to gatherings

All but five cases since April 16 linked to three parties, official says

Three Clallam County gatherings have sparked several outbreaks and are believed to be the source of almost all new COVID-19 cases in Clallam County since April 16, health officials said Monday.

A total of 101 cases have been confirmed in the county since that date, and while five have been tracked to individual travel, the remaining 96 have been traced to either being exposed at one of the three gatherings or were exposed to the virus by someone who attended one of the gatherings, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

The three super-spreaders — one wedding and two parties — had between 30 and 45 attendees who were primarily unvaccinated and unmasked, Berry said. One was located in Port Angeles, one was on the West End and one was in Sequim, she said.

As a result of the subsequent virus exposures, other outbreaks are now being tracked in Clallam County, including four day care centers and a high school wrestling team, Berry said.

Berry did not have specific numbers for how many cases have been found among the day cares, but she confirmed three cases so far among the unspecified wrestling team, and a baseball team and basketball team have each been placed into quarantine due to exposure to known cases, she said.

There have not been any outbreaks yet for either the baseball or basketball team, she added.

All of the outbreaks can be traced to attendees at one of the three large gatherings, Berry said.

So far, the county has been able to keep up on contact tracing due to guest lists, day care registrations and team rosters, to get possible exposures quarantined, with “well over 100” people quarantined in Clallam County, she added.

“These cases serve as an example of how rapidly the virus can spread and affect many families,” Berry said. “So many of us need to use services like day care and schools, and we’re excited to get kids back in sports.

“I think it’s critically important for those of us who use those services be very cautious about decreasing risks in all other aspects of our lives.”

Outbreaks are defined as a location with at least two cases of COVID-19, with reported virus transmission.

Berry and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, have not named a place experiencing an outbreak unless they are unable to trace possible exposures, they have said.

Children and teens younger than 16 are not currently eligible for a vaccine. Berry said it’s important for parents of children those ages to get vaccinated and avoid gathering with people indoors who are unvaccinated to prevent possible exposures.

All three gatherings involved many children, leading to 37 so far being infected with COVID-19 due to subsequent outbreaks and exposures, Berry said.

“It is possible to gather safely now, but in order to do so, you need to have the people in that gathering vaccinated,” she said.

Vaccine appointments for COVID-19 are becoming more available as doses are catching up to demand, Locke said during his Monday briefing with the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners.

“We should feel incredibly fortunate as Americans,” he said about vaccine availability. “We need to take advantage of it.”

The state has created a vaccination locator at https://vaccine locator.doh.wa.gov.

Clallam County added seven new COVID-19 cases Monday, while Jefferson County confirmed one new case, according to public health data.

Clallam County confirmed a total of 168 cases during April, about 13.43 percent of the 1,251 cases reported during the past year, according to county data.

Jefferson County confirmed 41 cases in April, about 10.32 percent of the 397 cases reported in the past year, according to county Public Health data.

Fifty-three COVID-19 cases were active as of Monday in Clallam County, with four patients currently hospitalized, two of whom were in the Intensive Care Unit.

Jefferson County had 11 active cases Monday.

Clallam County is in the state’s high-risk category with a case rate of 112 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Monday, while Jefferson County is in the moderate-risk category with a case rate of 62.7 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.

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

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