One new case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Clallam County on Thursday, while Jefferson County held steady with no new cases for the third consecutive day.
Clallam County’s new infection rate rose to 25 cases per 100,000 residents for the last two weeks, while Jefferson County held at 9.4 cases per 100,000 for the same time period.
Both counties remained in the state’s low-risk category. Clallam is right on the threshold; more cases could push it into the moderate-risk category.
The newest case in Clallam was a household contact of a previously confirmed case; the person was already in quarantine, said Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer.
Unthank has been working with the local medical clinics on recognizing differing signs of COVID-19 and influenza and other common respiratory illnesses as the counties enter the annual flu season.
As of Thursday, no flu cases had been confirmed this fall in either county.
Both Unthank and Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke have been urging residents to get vaccinated for the flu to avoid a bad flu season in addition to the current pandemic.
Both counties have experienced a rise in demand for the flu vaccine at pharmacies and medical clinics.
“October is the ideal month to be vaccinated, but it’s fine to get vaccinated in November as well,” Locke said. “We’re encouraging pharmacies to order plenty of vaccines, because nowadays they are one of the major providers of flu vaccination.
“Twenty years ago it used to be health departments and hospitals, but pharmacies have really stepped up and really become major influenza vaccination providers, and that’s a good thing,” he added. “It’s convenient and it’s accessible for people.
Locke said that historically, the peak of the flu season on the North Olympic Peninsula is February and March.
“And all the things we’re doing to prevent COVID-19 … are going to help enormously with influenza,” he added.
“We’re seeing the demand for influenza vaccine as robust, and that’s a good thing.”
Both health officers have been urging residents to continue to follow COVID-19 prevention guidelines such as wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and keeping social circles small to prevent a rise in infections by both the unique coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses that are common this time of year.
“My biggest message is to continue to take this seriously,” Unthank said.
“We’re trying to counter some of the messaging that is coming out of the federal government: COVID-19 is still very serious.
“You don’t have to be afraid of it, but there are some precautions you can take to increase the safety for yourself and your family,” Unthank said.
“So keeping that distance, wearing a face covering, staying home if you’re sick and getting tested right away if you’re sick, and as much as you can, if you’re going to be around other people, be outdoors,” she continued.
“But primarily, keep that social circle small.”
No one is currently hospitalized for COVID-19 on the Peninsula.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].