Peninsula confirms 19 more cases by noon Thursday

Health officers: Most related to holiday gatherings

The North Olympic Peninsula added 19 COVID-19 cases Thursday, mostly attributed to holiday gatherings, as Clallam and Jefferson County health officials continued to refine vaccination plans.

Clallam County confirmed 12 new cases and Jefferson County added seven for a two-county total of 1,036 since March 2020.

Clallam County had 788 confirmed cases and Jefferson County had 248 as of noon Thursday.

Most of the new infections in Clallam County were related to small social gatherings, said Dr. Allison Berry Unthank, county health officer.

“We have started to see some holiday gatherings showing up in that, but nothing very large,” Unthank said.

Jefferson County’s latest infections were “mostly linked to holiday activities,” Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said.

“This is an upward trend that we’re seeing,” Locke added.

“It’s modest compared to some other areas of the state, but it’s definitely an upward trend.”

Locke and Unthank each said the distribution of the two-dose vaccines remained the primary focus of their work Thursday.

“It’s a tricky time because the demand is far higher than the supply,” Locke said.

Both counties have distributed initial doses of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccine to “1A” groups, which consist of frontline health care workers, first responders and long-term care facility staff and residents.

Jefferson County has put a hold on 1A vaccinations pending the arrival of second-dose “booster packs” to complete vaccinations that began in mid-December, Locke said.

Next group

The “1B1” group includes people 70 and over and those who are 50 and older and live in multigenerational households, the state Department of Health announced Wednesday.

“We’re hoping for (vaccine) shipments this week, and as soon as we get it we can kind of work to finish the 1A group and move on to the newly-established 1B categories,” Locke said Thursday.

“So the next step will be people over age 70, and, under the state’s guidelines, people over age 50 who live in multigenerational households, but we’re trying to get clarification from the state what exactly that means,” he added.

Clallam County residents who are in the 1A group and have not yet been vaccinated should call the county’s Emergency Operations Center (360-417-2483) for instructions on where to get a shot, Unthank said.

“We’ll help route you to the right place to get vaccinated, because there are a lot of different options around the county depending on where you live, and it’s slightly different in all three regions,” Unthank said.

“We can help you navigate that process to make sure you get a vaccine.”

Mass vaccination events for first responders and others in the 1A group are being planned for Jan. 14 in the Sequim area and Jan. 16 in Port Angeles, Unthank said. Times and locations will be announced.

As of Thursday, Clallam County had 725 COVID-19 recoveries, 29 hospitalizations and one current hospitalization, Unthank said.

Unthank will provide new COVID-19 statistics in her weekly briefing at 10 a.m. today.

To view the briefing, click on www.clallam.net/features/meetings.html.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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