Overnight camping to be recommended soon

Clallam County eyeing opening when I-5 counties do, rather than state

Overnight camping on the North Olympic Peninsula could open up by the end of this month if all officials agree, even if the state has not moved into Phase 2 as a whole.

The only Phase 2 activity that is not allowed in either county is overnight camping, due to Jefferson County’s Board of Health decision to not open camping until Clallam County does and the Clallam County Board of Health choice to not open camping until the rest of the state does.

However, Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer, is planning to recommend to the Clallam Board of Health to open camping once Pierce, King and Snohomish counties do; those counties recently applied to open camping, Unthank said.

“I anticipate that happening within the next week or so,” said Unthank in regard to the I-5 counties opening overnight camping.

The next Clallam Board of Health meeting is on June 16, Unthank said.

Both counties started the rest of the Phase 2 activities and businesses this week, and officials are continuing to help businesses navigate the state guidelines.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the North Olympic Peninsula held at 58 on Thursday and all those with active cases are recovering at home, health officials said.

One of the recent cases in Clallam County was hospitalized earlier this week, but the person was discharged Thursday, Unthank said.

There are 27 confirmed cases in Clallam County and 31 cases in Jefferson County, officials said. Of those, 25 have recovered in Clallam and 30 have recovered in Jefferson County.

The most recent case in Jefferson County is a child who is asymptomatic and was tested on Sunday before a surgery, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

In quarantine

The contacts of the new cases in both counties have gone into quarantine at their homes and county officials are supporting them, Locke and Unthank said.

Clallam County officials check in with those in quarantine and help get them food, medications and assisting with other tasks such as taking a dog to the vet, Unthank said

“Really anything that comes up from them we try to take care of for them,” Unthank said.

Jefferson County officials also work with those in quarantine and help them in similar ways as Clallam with help from volunteers, said Locke.

“When you’re in quarantine, you can’t go to grocery stores. You need help with things,” Locke said. “People in quarantine are really doing a service for the whole community. They’re sacrificing a couple weeks of their personal liberty in order to prevent the infection in the community.

“At least in my view, we as a community owe them support during that period.”

Some of the close contacts who were moved into quarantine were already tested for COVID-19 and the tests returned negative, but they’re still being kept in quarantine and monitored for symptoms in case testing was done too soon, Unthank said.

“They’re still in the incubation period and it’s possible they were tested too early and could still develop the infection,” she said.

Protesting safely

Both counties have had “Black Lives Matter” protests in response to the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis, Minn., police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, and both health officers support people’s right to protest, but call for people to make sure to be safe while demonstrating.

“We never want to infringe on people’s rights to protest, we just want to help people stay safe,” Unthank said. “So we’re encouraging people who are protesting to wear masks, keep space as much as they can, wash their hands.

“The protests that are happening right now are really important and so we want people to get out there. We just want them to do it as safely as they can.”

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

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