Peninsula COVID-19 cases grow by 407 over weekend

Peak expected in about two weeks

One place where COVID-19 testing is available in Port Angeles is the Olympic Medical Center drive-up testing facility at the former Wells Fargo Bank at Front and Race streets. Intake forms must be filed out before testing is done. The form can be found at www.olympicmedical.org/services/covid-19-services. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

One place where COVID-19 testing is available in Port Angeles is the Olympic Medical Center drive-up testing facility at the former Wells Fargo Bank at Front and Race streets. Intake forms must be filed out before testing is done. The form can be found at www.olympicmedical.org/services/covid-19-services. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

North Olympic Peninsula’s health officer reported a total of 407 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Clallam and Jefferson counties over the holiday weekend and said cases and deaths are expected to rise in the next two weeks.

Two Clallam County men were reported on Tuesday as succumbing to the COVID-19 virus.

Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties, said both men — one in his 50s and one in his 60s — were unvaccinated. At least one had underlying health issues.

That brought the total number of deaths ascribed to COVID-19 to 89 in Clallam County since the pandemic began. With the total number of deaths in Jefferson County being 22, the deaths reported Tuesday bring the toll on the Peninsula to 111.

Clallam County saw a significant rise in cases over the weekend, jumping to a total of 8,190, up 300 cases from 7,890 on Jan. 14.

Clallam’s case rate was 2,161 per 100,000 population as of Tuesday.

Jefferson County also saw a significant increase in cases, jumping to 2,123, up 107 cases from 2,016 cases last Friday. The case rate was 1,260 per 100,000 on Tuesday, but it will be updated on Friday, Jan. 21.

For at least the next two weeks, cases, hospitalizations and most likely deaths are expected to continue to rise, Berry told the Jefferson County commissioners on Tuesday.

“Nationwide, we are seeing incredibly high rates of transmission,” she said.

“About 800,000 cases are diagnosed every day in the U.S. Hospitalizations are still rising nationwide and unfortunately deaths are as well,” Berry said.

“In Washington, we are not at our peak yet … Our cases are skyrocketing with about 2,000 cases diagnosed every day, and unfortunately our hospitalizations are continuing to rise,” Berry said.

At Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles, at least 14 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Four were in the intensive care unit (ICU); another was transferred to an ICU out of the county.

Jefferson Healthcare hospital in Port Townsend had two people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday. Of those one is in the ICU.

Berry warned that healthcare systems in Clallam County are near the breaking point compared with Jefferson County due to the number of people who need medical attention for COVID and other emergency services, placing a massive strain on the emergency department at OMC.

“What we’re really seeing that’s different between the two counties is that, in Clallam County, the sheer number of people with COVID that are needing to be seen in the ER or in the hospital is beyond straining the hospital … it’s nearly buckling under the pressure of all those patients who need medical care, particularly emergency department medical care.

“We are actually not seeing that in Jefferson, and that is really thanks to the sheer number of folks in the community who are vaccinated,” Berry said.

However, Berry said emergency transport service is strained throughout the region.

“We ran into a critical shortage over the weekend where we couldn’t transport folks out of this region no matter how sick they were,” she said.

Berry again encouraged those who are eligible to get vaccinated and boosted and discussed the national movement to distribute tests.

“The federal government has promised that we can all have up to four antigen tests per household,” she said.

“They’ve set up a website where you can go and order your tests. I will be interested to see how that rollout goes. That is a technological challenge that won’t crash when all of the United States tries to log in at once, but I hope it goes well,” Berry said.

The www.covidtests.gov site did a soft launch on Tuesday and appeared to run smoothly. Those who order tests are expected to receive them through the U.S. Postal Service within one to two weeks.

Vaccinations continue to be available through OMC and Jefferson Healthcare as well as at area pharmacies and vaccine clinics.

Willie Bence, director of Jefferson County Department of Emergency Management, said the state Department of Health caravan will be on hand at Blue Heron Middle School in Port Townsend on Jan. 22 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. to distribute the Pfizer vaccine to those 18 and younger and Moderna for those 18 and older. Then it will travel to the Brinnon Community Center to offer the same from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Folks can sign up at www.prepmod.doh.wa.gov/appointment/en/reg/0019862590 for youth ages 5-17 and at www.prepmod.doh.wa.gov/appointment/en/reg/2690591109 for adults 18 and older.

________

Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

John Brewer.
Former editor and publisher of PDN dies

John Brewer, 76, was instrumental in community

From left to right are Indigo Gould, Hazel Windstorm, Eli Hill, Stuart Dow, Mateu Yearian and Hugh Wentzel.
Port Townsend Knowledge Bowl team wins consecutive state championships

The Knowledge Bowl team from Port Townsend High School has… Continue reading

Bob Edgington of 2 Grade LLC excavating, which donated its resources, pulls dirt from around the base of an orca sculpture at the Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield on Thursday during site preparation to rebuild the Port Angeles play facility, which was partially destroyed by an arson fire on Dec. 20. A community build for the replacement playground is scheduled for May 15-19 with numerous volunteer slots available. Signups are available at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904084DA4AC23A5F85-47934048-dream#/. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Site preparation at Dream Playground

Bob Edgington of 2 Grade LLC excavating, which donated its resources, pulls… Continue reading

Rayonier Inc. is selling more than 115,000 acres in four units across the West Olympic Peninsula last week as the company looks to sell $1 billion worth of assets. (Courtesy photo / Rayonier Inc.)
Rayonier to sell West End timberland

Plans call for debt restructuring; bids due in June

Port Angeles port approves contract for Maritime Trade Center bid

Utilities installation, paving part of project at 18-acre site

Port Angeles to hire personnel to operate day ambulance

The Port Angeles Fire Department will be able to… Continue reading

Port Angeles City Hall parking lot closed for construction

Work crews from Bruch and Bruch Construction, Inc. will… Continue reading

Teen photo contest open for submissions

The Jefferson County Library is accepting submissions for Teen… Continue reading

Letters of inquiry for grant cycle due May 15

The Olympic View Community Foundation and the Seattle Foundation will… Continue reading

Amy DeQuay of Port Angeles, right, signs up for information at a table staffed by Christopher Allen and Mary Sue French of the Port Angeles Arts Council during a Volunteer Fair on Wednesday at Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles. The event, organized by the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce, brought together numerous North Olympic Peninsula agencies that offer people a chance to get involved in their communities. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Volunteer fair in Port Angeles

Amy DeQuay of Port Angeles, right, signs up for information at a… Continue reading

Luncheon to raise funds for women with cancer

The Kathleen Sutton Fund will host its third spring… Continue reading

Among those volunteering are rowers from Port Townsend, Port Angeles and Sequim. Pictured from left to right are WendyRae Johnson of Port Angeles; Gail Clark and Lynn Gilles, both of Sequim, Jean Heessels-Petit of Sequim; Christi Jolly, Dennis Miller, Carolyn DeSalvo and Frank DeSalvo, all of Sequim; and Rudy Heessels, Amy Holms and Guy Lawrence, all of Sequim.
Sequim Bay Yacht Club to host opening day ceremonies

The Sequim Bay Yacht Club will host free boat rides… Continue reading