Peninsula stays clear of new COVID-19 cases

Health officials working with schools

County health officials continued their work with school districts and testing outreach on Tuesday, reporting no new cases of COVID-19.

Both Clallam and Jefferson counties remain in the state’s low-risk category with case rates of 17 new cases per 100,000 population for the past two weeks in Clallam and 3.13 cases per 100,000 in Jefferson for the same time period, county health officers said.

Both Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank and Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke are working with the local school districts.

Clallam County districts are preparing to possibly begin some form of in-person schooling beginning Oct. 5. Most Jefferson County districts already are using hybrid models of in-person and online learning.

“As issues come up, we deal with them, sort of on a day-by-day basis,” Locke said. “As the first school system in the region to be doing in-person education, it’s really challenged us to figure out a lot of this implementation stuff on our own.

“We’ll be happy to share what we’ve learned with Kitsap and Clallam County and anyone else who is interested.”

Unthank and Clallam County Public Health are continuing to work on bringing COVID-19 testing to underserved neighborhoods in the West End, and Unthank said residents have been very receptive to the outreach.

“A lot of what we’re doing is going to very remote parts of the West End and actually going door-to-door, offering people testing if we know that there have been positive cases in that area, and people by and large have been very open to it,” Unthank said.

“When we do these outreach events, people are happy to get tested and find out their status,” she continued. “We also hand out masks to a lot of people during that, and people are happy to take them.

“We haven’t run into a lot of pushback, luckily, when we head out there.”

Fall is officially here, and with it, the colder weather will start forcing people to gather inside. Both Locke and Unthank are urging people to practice social distancing and wear face masks while inside with people outside their households.

“The biggest thing you can do is limit the amount of people you see in a week, not just an individual interaction,” Unthank said. “Try to keep it less than five and then remember that, whenever you go indoors, you should have a mask on.”

Locke said: “The more you move indoors, the more important it is for people to limit their exposures to their household or sometimes very carefully chosen group of family or friends.

“Some people choose to have multiple social bubbles that they interact with, but the risks go up. The way you mitigate that, the way you try to counter-balance the increased risk, is with masking and distancing and really limiting the numbers,” Locke continued.

“The bottom line is that it’s just not possible to safely do large- or even medium-sized gatherings indoors the way it is outdoors.”

Clallam County has had 236 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March, with eight active cases and one death, according to Clallam County Public Health data.

Jefferson County has had 71 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March, with one active case and no deaths, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.

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Jefferson County Reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at zjablonski@peninsuladailynews.com or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.

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