One new confirmed case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Jefferson County, which brings the total number of cases on the North Olympic Peninsula to 69.
As of Thursday afternoon, Jefferson County’s confirmed case count is 36, with 30 patients recovered, while Clallam County held at 33 cases with 32 recovered, officials said.
The newest case in Jefferson County was discovered late Wednesday afternoon and is a female in her 60s who is currently asymptomatic, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County Health Officer. She was tested as part of medical care for other conditions, he said.
Today marks the start of state Secretary of Health John Wiesman’s order mandating facial coverings when people are indoors in public areas and when they are outdoors in public areas where 6 feet of social distancing can’t be maintained.
That is in addition to Gov. Jay Inslee’s order on June 8 mandating employees wear masks unless they have no contact with other people.
Both Locke and Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank support the order and encourage the public to wear cloth face coverings or disposable surgical masks. However medical-grade masks such as N95s, they ask be reserved for medical professionals.
“I don’t recommend people wear N95s,” Locke said. “Those are kind of overkill and are still in short supply.”
Both officers want people to make sure they’re wearing their face coverings correctly. A mask should cover both mouth and nose, be relatively form-fitting to your face and not readjusted multiple times, they said.
Both counties have been receiving cloth masks from the state to distribute to people under 200 percent of the state poverty line, and those masks are being distributed by organizations that already support that population, said Unthank and Willie Bence, Jefferson County Emergency Management director.
“That process has already started, so that soon people should be able to contact their service organization for masks,” Unthank said.
On Monday, Jefferson County Public Health is expected to submit an application to the state to enter Phase 3. The newest confirmed case shouldn’t affect the application, Locke said.
Locke said mask wearing will be vital for Phase 3 to be successful, as well as people continuing to social distance, washing their hands and getting tested if they have symptoms.
“They really are linked,” Locke said. “Not only do we want to go to Phase 3, we want to be successful and we want to stay there.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where we have … to close down things that have been reopened.”
At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Clallam County Board of Health will conduct a special meeting to discuss possibly applying for Phase 3 and opening overnight camping in the county, Unthank said.
“I suspect that if we don’t move to Phase 3, we will allow camping even if we don’t go to Phase 3,” Unthank said. “If we go to Phase 3, then all of it will be allowed is my suspicion.
“The decision about which one of those does happen, that will be the Board of Health’s call.”
Both health officers encourage anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested. In Clallam County, testing is done at primary care clinics and walk-in clinics throughout the county. For Jefferson County, patients can call 360-344-3094 to schedule an appointment to get tested. Patients must call ahead to get tested.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.