Omicron variant likely cause of most new cases on Peninsula

Vaccination, boosters especially important now

Omicron is on the North Olympic Peninsula and is likely responsible for most of the new cases, according to the health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.

“We only sequence a certain amount of cases, particularly ones we are concerned about such as outbreaks, reinfections and severe symptoms,” Dr. Allison Berry said.

“From that, we get a weekly report that tells us what percentage of cases are omicron, and based on what we got back yesterday, we expect most of our cases to be omicron.”

Vaccination and booster shots are especially important in light of the new variant, Berry and other public health authorities have said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Monday: “When you get to omicron, the protection significantly goes down. But the good news is, if you boost someone, it goes right back up.”

Clallam County reported an additional 24 cases on Tuesday, swelling its total cases since the COVID-19 pandemic to 6,018, the highest it’s been, with a case rate of 659 per 100,000 population.

Jefferson County, which has not reported any confirmed cases of the omicron variant, added 11 COVID cases on Tuesday, bringing its total cases to 1,480. Jefferson’s case rate is updated once a week and is expected to go up this week.

Ten Clallam County residents are in hospitals with COVID-19. Seven are at Olympic Medical Center. Of those, six are unvaccinated and three are in the intensive care unit (ICU), according to Ryan Hueter, a spokesperson with OMC.

Two people are hospitalized at Jefferson Healthcare hospital. Both are unvaccinated. One is in the ICU, spokesperson Amy Yaley said.

Both Clallam and Jefferson counties will change requirements for isolation/ quarantine for those who have tested positive for the virus after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a change on Monday.

The CDC said most COVID-19 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the two days before symptoms appear and for two to three days afterward. So, it said those who test positive should isolate for five days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for another five days to minimize the risk of infecting others.

The same recommendation has been made for people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second vaccination and have not yet had a booster shot.

Those who are boosted do not need to quarantine following exposure but should wear a mask for at least 10 days afterward, the recommendation said.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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