Official: COVID-19 droplets evaporate in high temperatures

Strains likely to lead to outbreaks, then drop-offs, Locke says

PORT TOWNSEND — COVID-19 suffers in sweltering heat like the North Olympic Peninsula experienced Sunday, Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said.

Tiny droplets in aerosols that spread COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses “dry out in seconds” in warm outdoor air, Locke said. Ultraviolet light kills coronavirus, too, he added.

“This is not good for the virus,” Locke said as temperatures soared into the 90s at about noon Sunday.

“Unfortunately, in real hot weather, we can see transmission increase, but the reason is people stay indoors in air-conditioned spaces.

“There, the virus does just fine in air-conditioned, indoor spaces, but not in the outdoors.”

COVID-19 transmission was “slowing down a bit” in Jefferson County late last week, Locke said.

Inoculation rates had also flattened as recent pop-up clinics had only vaccinated “five people at a time,” Locke said.

“We’re kind of getting to the margin of who we think is willing to get vaccinated,” Locke said.

Jefferson County had 447 confirmed COVID-19 cases since March 2020, according to the county health department.

Clallam County had 1,452 total cases as of Friday, the health department website said.

Jefferson County was No. 2 in the state for adults who had been fully vaccinated, at 64 percent, trailing only San Juan County’s nearly 70 percent, Locke said.

In Clallam County, 51 percent of the population had been fully vaccinated as of Friday, the health department said.

“At this point, we’re kind of seeing the pattern that the pandemic’s going to take, and that is we’re going to have outbreaks in unvaccinated groups, mostly families and churches and social groups where people interact with each other and for reasons I don’t fully understand, one of their shared values is not getting vaccinated,” Locke said.

“The new strains, the alpha and gamma and eventually the delta strains, are such that we’ll see outbreaks. We’ll see these surges in cases, and then it will drop off and surge up.”

Vaccination clinics will be offered on the North Olympic Peninsula this week.

Residents can walk into the Jefferson Healthcare Express Clinic every day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. to receive a Johnson & Johnson vaccine shot, or they can schedule with a primary care provider to receive Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson, said Amy Yaley, hospital spokesperson.

Vaccinations at pharmacies in Jefferson County can be found at https://co.jefferson.wa.us/1429/COVID-19.

Clallam County has two pop-clinics scheduled this week in Forks.

On Tuesday, officials will offer Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer’s vaccine from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Forks Food Bank, 181 Bogachiel Way, according to the county’s pop-up calendar.

On Thursday, officials will offer second-dose Pfizer vaccine from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Peninsula College in Forks, 481 S. Forks Ave.

While that clinic is geared toward second doses, anyone eligible is welcome and won’t be turned away, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

The full calendar for pop-up clinics in Clallam County can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-ClallamPopUps.

Some of the larger grocery stores such as Walmart, Safeway and QFC receive regular shipments of COVID-19 vaccines.

Appointments can be made on their websites when available: Walmart, Walmart.com/covidvaccine; Safeway, https://www.safeway.com/vaccinations/home; QFC, https://www.qfc.com/rx/covid-eligibility.

The state has a vaccination locator at https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov, which allows users to see where appointments are available and which vaccine will be used.

While all state residents 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, anyone younger than 18 can receive only Pfizer’s vaccine.

Washington residents 16 and older who have been vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination at any time before 11:59 p.m. Sunday will be automatically entered into the fourth statewide giveaway lottery drawing Tuesday.

That excludes employees of the state Lottery Commission or state Department of Health and their families as well as anyone who is incarcerated.

Prizes include $250,000 as well as tuition money, airline and game tickets, and tech gifts like game consoles and smart speakers.

A $1 million jackpot will be offered on July 13.

It isn’t necessary to do anything to enter. All those who have been vaccinated are automatically entered into a database.

The latest data shows 73.9 percent of Jefferson County residents 16 and older have initiated vaccinations, with 70.7 percent of them fully vaccinated, while 66.8 percent of the total population has started vaccinations, and 63.8 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

Clallam County has vaccinated 63.8 percent of residents 16 and older with at least one dose, with 59.4 percent of them fully vaccinated, while 55.1 percent of the total population has begun vaccinations and 51.1 percent fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

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