Peninsula hits 100 COVID-19 cases

Nine reported in Clallam County in two days

Holiday gatherings led to nine new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Clallam County over two days, according to county officials, a surge that brought the North Olympic Peninsula to hit 100 cases since March.

Clallam County Undersheriff Ron Cameron reported five new cases Friday and Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank reported an additional four cases Saturday, to give Clallam County a total of 59.

Jefferson County officially remained at 41 cases Saturday, a number the county has maintained for several days now.

Cameron, who is the emergency management coordinator, said the five new cases Friday are not related to one another, although a couple of them are related to previously reported cases of COVID-19.

“We believe a lot of them, of these five and ones we have been seeing recently, are the results from the Fourth of July gatherings, ” Cameron said Friday.

Unthank said the four cases reported Saturday were from Fourth of July parties. These four cases — three teenagers and a woman in her 50s — are related to a single Fourth of July gathering.

Cameron noted that Friday’s spike was the largest single-day total of COVID-19 cases in Clallam County since the start of the spread in the state of Washington, making the outlook pretty grim for the possibility of the county moving into Phase 3.

“At this point, we aren’t trying to get our cases to zero. We’re trying to get them as low as possible,” Unthank said.

Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said a new positive was reported in Jefferson County on Saturday, but that it was an out-of-state resident who tested positive locally and that case likely will not count as a Jefferson County case.

In a more positive vein, Unthank confirmed that the COVID-19 outbreak at Serenity House was contained to just two cases and the investigation at that location is now closed.

“It really speaks to the power of infection prevention,” Unthank said. “The fact that Serenity House worked early on its infection prevention, on the spacing of their guests really went a long way.”

Another outbreak at Olympic Medical Center was contained at two cases, both employees. No patients tested positive after hundreds of tests were done.

Unthank noted that contact tracing has shown that much of the increase in COVID-19 cases stems from people relaxing infection control measures with family and friends who have traveled from out of the county or out of the state.

“We are seeing a decent amount of infections from people who are having guests visit them from out of the county,” Unthank said.

“I think it is important to stress that this is not tourists. This is people’s friends and family,” she said.

“I think what we are seeing is a lot of people are practicing good infection prevention when they are around strangers, but not when they are around their own friends.”

Locke agreed.

“People think that somehow friends are safe. Anyone can have it,” he said.

Unthank urged people to reduce visits to family and friends, saying if they do get together to do it safely with infection prevention practices in mind. She also cautioned against large gatherings, which are currently not allowed during Phase 2.

No fatalities have been reported on the Peninsula.

Grim statewide

Locke said that reopening the state was discussed during a statewide conference call of health officers Friday.

“It’s pretty clear that things are not going to move forward,” he said, because of an increase of cases in Washington.

In particular, the Yakima and Tri-Cities areas are seeing huge increases in cases during the past month.

“We’re wondering can we even open schools this fall. The outbreak activity needs to be lower than this,” Locke said.

Locke said the recent outbreaks in Washington mean that bars likely will not be reopened even in Phase 3 and that live music events will not be allowed for some time.

________

Reporter Pierre La Bossiere can be reached at plabossiere@peninsuladailynews,com.

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

More in News

Priscilla Hudson is a member of the Sequim Prairie Garden Club, which is responsible for clearing a weed- and blackberry-choked 4 acres of land and transforming it into an arboretum and garden known as the Pioneer Memorial Park over the last 70 years. (Emily Matthiessen/for Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Pioneer Memorial Park grows into an arboretum

Granted certification by ArbNet program

Members chosen for pool task force

Locations outside Port Townsend to get closer look

Bidder wins project on lottery drawing

Lake Pleasant pilings to be replaced in July

Corrections officer assaulted as inmate was about to be released

A Clallam County corrections sergeant was allegedly assaulted by… Continue reading

Firefighters rescue hiker near Dungeness lighthouse

Clallam County Fire District 3 crews rescued a man with… Continue reading

Jefferson County law library board seeks public input

The Jefferson County Law Library Board is seeking public… Continue reading

Nonprofits to gather at Connectivity Fair

Local 20/20 will host its 2024 Jefferson County Connectivity Fair… Continue reading

The Port Townsend Main Street Program is planning an Earth Day work party in the downtown area from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Earth Day cleanup events slated for Saturday

A variety of cleanup activities are planned around the North Olympic Peninsula… Continue reading

Sequim Police Department promotes Larsen to sergeant

Maris Larsen, a Sequim Police detective, was promoted to sergeant… Continue reading

Dave Swinford of Sequim, left, and Marlana Ashlie of Victoria take part in a workshop on Saturday about cropping bird photos for best presentation during Saturday’s Olympic Birdfest. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Bird spotting

Dave Swinford of Sequim, left, and Marlana Ashlie of Victoria take part… Continue reading