Sequencing tests underway for wrestling teams

Health officer monitors outbreak for omicron variant

The North Olympic Peninsula’s public health officer is awaiting test results to see if they confirm the omicron variant of COVID-19 has reached the region.

A series of wrestling tournaments on Dec. 4 has become the epicenter of an omicron COVID-19 outbreak. Competing in the tournaments were Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Skagit, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, Whatcom and Yakima counties.

While none of the high schools on the Peninsula competed in those tournaments, Clallam and Jefferson county high school teams have since competed against teams that were present there, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.

At least 11 of the more than 5,500 cases in Clallam County are associated with wrestling events, she said.

“We will likely see our first omicron-variant cases in the coming days stemming from the wrestling tournaments,” Berry said Thursday.

So far, nearly 100 cases have been tied to the wrestling tournaments across multiple counties.

Clallam County’s cases had risen to 5,554 by Thursday from 5,503 on Tuesday, a total of 51 new cases.

Jefferson County’s cases had risen to 1,374 by Thursday from 1,366 on Tuesday, a total of eight new cases.

Clallam County’s case rate was 292 per 100,000 population.

“We are holding steady in the 290s when it comes to cases per 100,000,” Berry said.

Jefferson County’s case rate was 165 cases per 100,000.

Although neither Clallam nor Jefferson counties have 100,000 population, the case rate is computed from a formula based upon that measurement.

Since the pandemic began, Clallam County has reported 78 deaths while Jefferson County has reported 20.

One person was hospitalized as of Thursday in Jefferson County while eight are in the hospital in Clallam Clallam.

The newest person to be hospitalized in Clallam County is a child too young to be eligible for vaccination, Berry said, adding that it is too early in the sequencing process to know what variant the child has.

“Right now, the most dominant variant in the nation is still the delta variant, but we are looking out for omicron,” Berry said.

Omicron is considered more transmissible than delta, according to world news reports; it has been said that it may have less severe effects.

The likelihood that the omicron variant is present in both counties has Berry urging folks to get vaccinated and get a booster, as the boosters have been proven to defend against the omicron variant.

“It’s really important for folks to get boosted right now,” Berry said.

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

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