No peak yet for new virus cases

Clallam records 161 over weekend; Jefferson adds 17

Clallam County COVID-19 infections continue to skyrocket, with 161 new cases confirmed over the weekend, while Jefferson County added 17.

“It’s a lot,” said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for both counties. “It’s been a really huge surge in cases.

“We are experiencing the strain in every avenue of response to this. Certainly our public health team has been working hard over the weekend to try to stay ahead of contact tracing.”

Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles peaked at 21 COVID-19 patients over the weekend before it dropped to 14 hospitalized locally and two transferred out of county as of Monday, Berry said.

Jefferson Healthcare peaked with six COVID-19 patients over the weekend and had two on Monday, Berry said.

Due to the hospital strain statewide, officials are having to treat severely ill patients locally for longer than normal as they wait for beds to open at larger hospitals, Berry said.

“They are still capable of providing the care,” Berry said. “But, previously what you would do in a hospital setting, if you know someone is looking at a higher level of care then they normally provide, you would look for a transfer of care.

“Now, with the hospital strain around the state, we’re having to wait until people are critically ill to get access to those beds. Normally, if you knew that someone was likely to need intubation, for example, you would start the transfer process, but now, we’re intubating folks here and taking care of them until a bed opens up.”

Clallam County’s case rate soared to a new record for the pandemic, reaching 847 cases per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Monday, according to county public health data.

Jefferson County’s case rate decreased slightly to 247.65 cases per 100,000 for the past two weeks as of Saturday, county health data said.

The COVID-19 outbreak at Clallam Bay Correctional Center now has 23 inmates sick with COVID-19 and five staff, Berry said.

The Peninsula has started to see an increase in hospitalizations without any deaths, but a surge in both is expected over the next few weeks, Berry said.

She added the Peninsula has yet to see the peak of the current wave of new infections, and both hospitalizations and deaths lag behind surges in new cases.

“The trajectory of all these things is you see a case rise, then a hospitalization rise and then a death rise, and when you see your case numbers start to slow, you can expect your hospitalizations and deaths to still rise for the next two to three weeks,” Berry said. “When we look at Jefferson’s numbers, we’re likely to see hospitalizations rise for the next two to three weeks, then taper out.

In Clallam, we’re still skyrocketing up. We haven’t seen the peak of our cases or hospitalizations or deaths yet.”

Clallam County has confirmed a total of 2,666 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began and 20 deaths due to the virus, according to public health data.

Jefferson County has confirmed a total of 685 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and four deaths due to the virus, according to public health data.

Since the beginning of February, 18.1 percent of new COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County have been among fully vaccinated residents, meaning 81.9 percent of cases have been among unvaccinated residents, according to county data.

During that same time period, 11.2 percent of new COVID-19 cases in Clallam County have been among fully vaccinated residents, meaning 88.8 percent of cases have been among unvaccinated residents, according to county data.

“We’re not seeing dramatically more breakthroughs with (the delta variant), we’re just seeing so many more cases, which, in turn, is going to give you some percentage of breakthrough,” Berry said.

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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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