Outbreaks studied in care facility, school districts

School district outbreaks in Jefferson County

A long-term care facility outbreak in Clallam County has grown while two school outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported in Jefferson County.

The long-term-care facility outbreak, which was reportedly at nine cases last week, has grown to 25 COVID-19 cases after recent testing revealed another 16 cases, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties. Twenty residents and five staff members have been infected, she said.

Berry does not identify places experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak if officials are able to contact-trace the exposures. For long-term care facilities, they’re required to contact family members/emergency contacts of residents who’ve been exposed, she has said. Berry and Clallam County Public Health have been working with the facility on infection control and delivering monoclonal antibodies to the infected residents, Berry said.

Berry and Jefferson County Public Health officials are investigating two school-district-related outbreaks involving a kindergarten class and a football team.

Each outbreak had four cases as of Tuesday, Berry said. She declined to identify the districts to “protect the privacy of the kids,” she said.

All children and parents who were potentially effected by the two outbreaks were identified and contacted, Berry said. The kindergarten outbreak began before Pfizer’s vaccine was approved for children 5- to 11-years-old, Berry said.

“The challenge is this is a highly contagious virus, and kids that age can’t properly distance from each other,” Berry said.

In both outbreaks, school officials have been working closely with the public health team, Berry said, adding that they have followed protocols well to prevent further spread of the virus. The football team outbreak is the first believed to have been caused by transmission that occurred while the players were on the field, Berry said.

Prior outbreaks are believed to have been caused by transmission among players inside places like a locker room, where it’s easier for the virus to spread, Berry said.

“Interestingly, we’ve been able to complete the contact tracing for these kids, and we do suspect some degree of on-the-field transmission in this case,” Berry said.

“The students and the staff were very participatory in our interviews and were taking very extensive precautions in indoor spaces.

“We were able to basically map out where the players were on the field, and you can imagine if you’ve seen a football line, there are situations where people are very close face-to-face pressing against each other, and that was the case for a couple of these players.”

The team has been doing very well in its prevention protocols overall, Berry said, adding that a recent round of testing was just completed, about seven days since the initial exposures, and no new cases were found. She is hopeful that the outbreak will remain at the four cases.

In Clallam County, the case rate continues to remain about the same, with the county recording 292 cases per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Tuesday. On Monday, Clallam County had 293 cases per 100,000 population for the past two weeks, according to county public health data.

Clallam County added 21 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising its total to 5,050 since the pandemic began, according to county public health data. In Jefferson County, health officials recorded about 181.82 cases per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Nov. 3. Before that, the county had 250.78 cases per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Oct. 27.

Jefferson County added six new cases Tuesday, raising its total to 1,202 since the pandemic began, according to county public health data. Clallam County has had 67 residents die from COVID-19. Jefferson County has had 17.

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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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