A church member prays during a Good Friday service at St. Ambrose Cathedral on Friday, April 10, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press)

A church member prays during a Good Friday service at St. Ambrose Cathedral on Friday, April 10, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press)

Officials urge Peninsula residents to stay home during holiday weekend

Traveling, visiting can lead to uptick in COVID-19 cases, they say

County officials on the North Olympic Peninsula are urging the public to maintain social distancing and isolation practices during the holiday weekend.

COVID-19 cases are expected to peak near the end of April/early May and officials are urging the public to not gather and travel during the weekend of good weather and the Easter holiday, to limit the amount of positive cases that will rise on the Peninsula.

No new cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed on the Peninsula as of Friday, officials said.

Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank said at the Friday morning briefing that there were no new cases reported from Thursday night into Friday morning , with the number of confirmed cases still at 11. A total of 648 tests had been administered with 592 negative results and 45 pending.

“We know we’re not finding every case,” Unthank said. “When you have community transmission, you know you’re not going to find every case; but we’re going to try and find as many as we can, so we can limit that spread as much as we can.”

Jefferson County has a total of 28 confirmed cases, has administered 669 tests, with 631 resulting in negatives and 10 tests still pending, said Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke.

Officials are urging the public to continue to stay at home and social distance during the holiday weekend since traveling and meeting with other people increases the chance of exposure.

“Staying home right now is incredibly essential,” Unthank said. “A lot of folks might travel to be with family or to even gather in large groups this time of year. It’s really important that we don’t right now.

“Just a little bit of travel, a little bit of visiting friends and family, can go a long way in spreading this virus. So we really need folks to stay within their own home, not have visitors and not travel right now.

“Which I know is hard … but we really need to find other ways to connect right now.”

Maintaining social distancing and staying at home are very important right now, as officials predict the Peninsula’s curve of cases to peak in the next few weeks, according to different projections, Locke said.

“They all pretty much agree thing are going to get worse in Jefferson,” he said. “Predicting the future is a pretty tricky thing to do.”

Unthank said that part of the rise in cases in China was due to travel for the Lunar New Year in January.

“We really need our local folks to stay home right now and not spread this virus in the community as much as we can,” she said.

The weather this weekend poses another concern for officials, as both counties are expected to see sun and have temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s, according to Accuweather.

Unthank and Locke encourage people to enjoy the nice weather, but to do so near their house and to again, avoid groups of people, public places, and maintain social distancing practices by staying at least six-feet apart.

“The only people you should be hanging out with are those you live with,” said Locke, reiterating the point of flattening the curve is to prevent the demand on hospitals from outstripping their capacity to provide care.

“People should not travel or congregate,” he said.

________

Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at [email protected].

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