Clallam, Jefferson health officers urge COVID test with respiratory symptoms

Appointments for vaccinations accepted now

The number of tests conducted for suspected COVID-19 have been going down statewide — as well as positive results of those tests — but health officials still encourage residents to get tested if they have respiratory illness symptoms.

“We don’t want people to forgo testing because they think it’s no longer necessary or perhaps they think they just have the flu,” said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

“We’re seeing virtually zero flu activity in Washington state, and there have been zero cases in Jefferson County.

“Anyone with respiratory symptoms — fever, cough, sore throat — needs to consider that as COVID-19 until proven otherwise,” he added.

Statewide, no positive tests for influenza were reported in January. Health officials attribute that to the COVID-19 prevention practices as well as to a high percentage of vaccinations.

Testing in Clallam County has been decreasing, but test positivity and cases have been down as well, leading Dr. Allison Berry, county health officer, to believe it’s also a sign that disease activity is truly declining, she said Tuesday.

Test results in Jefferson County still fluctuate day-to-day, and Locke said Tuesday it’s too soon to spot a trend.

Locke urged residents with respiratory illness symptoms to get tested as soon as possible. If a person is a close contact of a confirmed case, it’s recommended they be tested for COVID-19 five to seven days after exposure if they have been asymptomatic up to that point.

On Tuesday, Clallam County confirmed two new cases of COVID-19, while Jefferson County confirmed one new case, according to county health officers.

The new cases in Clallam County were traced to a large birthday party and is a reminder that large indoor gatherings pose a big risk for virus transmission, Berry said.

Vaccination clinics

Large first-dose vaccination clinics by Jefferson Healthcare are still on hold. The state has not delivered vaccines for first doses to the hospital in more than a month, Locke said.

Vaccinations at the Sequim clinic organized by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe have appointments already set, Berry said.

Early Tuesday, there were concerns that clinics in Port Angeles would be postponed next week because of the state canceling vaccination delivery. Later in the day, Jamestown S’Klallam officials contacted Berry and offered to share 2,000 doses with the county so the Port Angeles clinic could continue.

Appointments

Appointments for Saturday and Sunday will open today at 9 a.m. at vaccine.clallam.net/register, Berry said.

Residents in Jefferson County older than 65 can sign up for notifications for when appointments are available at https://jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine.

While first-dose shipments of vaccines have been inconsistent, second-dose appointments have been continuing as scheduled so far, Berry and Locke said.

Clallam County’s test positivity — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 3 percent from Jan. 23 to Feb. 6, Berry said.

Jefferson County’s test positivity was 3.42 percent for Feb. 1-7.

So far this month, Clallam County has confirmed 20 cases of COVID-19, about 2.05 percent of the 956 cases confirmed since last March, according to Clallam County Public Health data.

Jefferson County has confirmed 19 cases of COVID-19, about 5.88 percent of the 323 it has confirmed since last March, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.

Thirty-five COVID-19 cases were active as of Monday in Clallam County, with two people hospitalized.

Jefferson County had 16 active cases.

Clallam County is in the state’s moderate risk category with a case rate of 70 per 100,000 population during the past two weeks as of Tuesday.

The case rate in the Jefferson County was 128.53 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday, in the state’s high-risk category.

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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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