Health officials on the North Olympic Peninsula continued their preparations for vaccination clinics for COVID-19 that are planned this weekend and next week.
Clallam County also confirmed seven new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, while Jefferson County reported three new cases from late Monday through Tueday.
The new cases in Clallam primarily were attributed to New Year’s Eve gatherings among people in their 20s, said Dr. Allison Berry Unthank, Clallam County health officer.
“It’s certainly concerning — especially when you’re dealing with young people who have been infected,” Unthank said. “The worry is the people at those parties could have very mild symptoms and go on to infect others. The hopeful part of that though is we’re really starting to get a good idea of where the locations were, and it’s pretty isolated.
“It’s just individual parties. We’re not seeing a massive community-wide surge, and that should help us control it sooner rather than later.”
Unthank also noted a new outbreak investigation starting at a small church in Clallam County, while the long-term care facility that has had nearly 20 confirmed cases has its outbreak investgation nearing completion, she said.
Unthank and Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke have said they do not identify businesses with confirmed cases unless the businesses do not cooperate with contact tracing.
Unthank denied identifying what part of the county the small church is located, saying, “We’re not giving more details about the church out of respect for their privacy and they are a relatively small church, and we don’t want people to start identifying folks.
“We’re working with the church leaders to identify and test the church members who were there,” she said.
The state’s 1B1 category of vaccinations include people older than 70 and caregivers in multi-generational households older than 50.
However, because of the limited amount of vaccine available in Clallam and Jefferson counties, only people older than 70 will be included for now, and Jefferson County plans to limit it even further to people 85 and older, due to the county’s older population.
Several vaccination events are scheduled this week in Sequim, Port Angeles and Forks.
The Sequim clinic will be a drive-through area from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, as well as Jan. 19, 21 and 23. A tent will be next to the James Center for the Performing Arts band shell in Carrie Blake Park, 202 N. Blake Ave.
The check-in location will be in the parking lot at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave. in Sequim.
Meanwhile, there will be two weekends of vaccinations for Port Angeles residents Saturday and Sunday, then Jan. 23-24. Both clinics will be hold at Port Angeles High School, 304 E. Park Ave.
Port Angeles residents are asked to schedule appointments on the county website, www.clallam.net. Unthank said appointment links are expected to go live today.
People without internet access can call the Clallam County Emergency Operations Center office at 360-417-2430 to schedule an appointment starting Wednesday.
Unthank said the Sequim and Port Angeles events have a capacity of 1,000 doses each of the Moderna vaccine.
The Forks clinic will be stationed Friday and Saturday at the Peninsula College campus parking area, 481 S. Forks Ave. Vaccinations will be available for those in the Phase 1B group — 70 or older and people 50 or older in a multigenerational household — from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
People should bring photo ID and arrive at 10 a.m. and remain in their car until they receive instructions. There will be about 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine each day.
Jefferson Healthcare is expected to start accepting appointments for Jefferson County residents 85 and older soon, possibly as early as today. The link to register for the vaccinations expected to start next week will be posted at https://jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine.
Jefferson Healthcare has the staff to perform up to 250 vaccinations a day, but vaccination amounts in both counties depend on how much vaccine is delivered to each county, Locke said.
“They hope to get another shipment in this week, but it hasn’t arrived yet,” he said. “That’s something that has to be fixed at a state level. To do this right, we need predictable weekly shipments.”
Clallam County has had a total of 842 cases of COVID-19, with 86 currently active, while Jefferson County has had a total of 258 cases, with 17 currently active, according to Clallam and Jefferson public health data.
The test positivity on the Peninsula — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 5.8 percent in Clallam County for Dec. 26 through Jan. 9, and 3.18 percent in Jefferson County for Jan. 4-10.
Both counties are in the state’s high-risk category, with case rates of 150 per 100,000 population in Clallam County for the two weeks prior as of Tuesday, and Jefferson County at 125.39 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Monday.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].