Peninsula cases of COVID-19 rise to 60

Officials urging public to remain cautious

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the North Olympic Peninsula rose to 60 after a household member of another confirmed case in Clallam County tested positive for the disease.

The newest case was confirmed late Wednesday afternoon after the 28th confirmation was discovered that morning, said Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer.

Clallam County now has 29 confirmed cases, with 26 recovered, while Jefferson County held at 31 confirmed cases, with 30 recovered, officials said. The Peninsula has had no deaths due to COVID-19.

The recent cases in Clallam County are a man in his 50s and a woman in her 20s in the same household. They were isolating at home as of Thursday, Unthank said.

Both Unthank and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, are urging residents to stay cautious, saying the pandemic is not over and that community members’ actions will be a driving force in possible surges.

“Our most recent cases had quite a few contacts and were both cases of community transmission, which makes me concerned that there are more cases out there that we are not aware of, and that people might be getting a little lax in their physical distancing,” Unthank said.

“I’m really encouraging folks to continue to take this seriously so we can prevent the spike in cases that we’re seeing in other states.”

Locke is eyeing a conditional Phase 3 application for Jefferson County. It is contingent on cases in Jefferson staying low, as well as what the Jefferson County Board of Health decides during its meeting at 2:30 p.m. next Thursday, he said.

“I am certainly leaning towards a conditional recommendation that the board move forward into Phase 3,” Locke said. “As a community, we’re doing a really good job of controlling the infection, and as our numbers show, we’ve seen very few cases since the second week of April.

“On the negative side, we’re seeing a lot of people who are not taking this seriously, who are not making an effort maintain physical distancing and don’t feel it’s important to wear masks indoors or public places.”

Both Locke and Unthank urge people to continue to practice social distancing when possible, limit the number of people they interact with outside of their household per week, and wear a face mask/covering when inside or in public places.

“There are people who still think that the pandemic is over or that it was never a problem in the first place,” Locke said.

“That is simply not true. We’re still in the early stages of this and we’re going to have more outbreaks, and we’re most certainly going to see another wave of this sometime in the late summer or early fall, and we have to take it seriously.”

Unthank echoed Locke’s statements.

“Phase 2 is not supposed to be back to normal,” Unthank said. “We want people to take this seriously.”

Unthank urges anyone who is sick or has symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested.

Testing in Clallam County is being done at primary care clinics, walk-in clinics and tribal clinics.

In Jefferson County, a drive-through system is in place. People need to call 360-344-3094 to schedule a testing appointment.

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

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