Several COVID-19 outbreaks reported in Clallam County

Rise in hospitalizations seen statewide

Clallam County Public Health officials are investigating several COVID-19 outbreaks in restaurants, a dental clinic and on a basketball team.

North Olympic Peninsula public health officials do not name the location of outbreaks if they’re able to contact trace and quarantine all exposed people. But, contact tracing among the multiple restaurants has been challenging, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer, and officials may make a public notice Friday about the affected restaurants if they were unable to adequately contact trace the exposed people Thursday.

Berry did not provide specific case numbers for the various outbreaks Thursday. An outbreak is defined as two or more cases with known transmission of the virus and multiple exposures to those cases, she said.

“It is a good reminder that restaurants are an inherently risky place,” Berry said. “It’s a good time to be thoughtful about gathering indoors.”

Berry and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, are concerned about a statewide trend of increasing hospitalizations, primarily among younger people, especially people with chronic conditions.

With the steep rise in cases Clallam County has seen over the last two weeks, Berry is concerned the county will see a rise in hospitalizations locally in two to three weeks.

“We’ve done a very good job of vaccinating many of our elderly, but many folks with chronic conditions are likely not protected and could be hit quite hard by this wave,” she said.

“We’re starting to hear some talk about young people saying they’re not planning on getting vaccinated because they’re not that worried about the virus.

“That’s very dangerous because young people can still spread the virus to other people who are at risk for the virus. And, if we just let the virus circulate among young people, that’s what causes variants, and so we could see additional variants develop if we just let the virus run rampant among otherwise healthy young people.”

Step backward

If cases continue to climb, Clallam and Jefferson could be moved back to Phase 2 of the “Roadmap to Recovery,” like King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kittitas counties are expected to do since their case rates are soaring above 200 cases per 100,000 over two weeks, Berry said.

Jefferson County has been seeing a slow increase in cases, but Locke said that could easily change for the worse as people return from traveling for spring break, he said.

“I’m expecting a steady increase,” he said. “It’s just a question of how fast it’s going to be because that’s very much the state trend.

“It’s all looking like the variant-driven fourth wave that we’re really seeing the most intense forms of in the upper Midwest.”

A new vaccination clinic in South Jefferson County by the Tri-Area Pharmacy and Jefferson County Department of Emergency Management is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Quilcene High School using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A total of 150 doses are available. To schedule an appointment, go to bit.ly/quilcenevax or call 360-344-9791.

Port Angeles Food Not Bombs is hosting a vaccination clinic Saturday with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine during its free lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Jesse Webster “Tree Park” for anyone 18 and older.

The free lunch’s target demographic is people receiving homelessness support, which all qualify under the current eligibility.

Clallam and Jefferson counties are vaccinating people in tiers 1B3 and 1B4, which include restaurant, construction, agriculture and other congregate workers, as well as people 60 and older. It also covers people with chronic medical conditions.

The conditions listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are published at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-Chronic Conditions.

Those previously eligible for vaccinations remain eligible for shots.

Appointments for Saturday’s clinic at Port Angeles High School — there will not be a clinic Sunday due to lack of appointment demand — can be made at http://vaccine.clallam.net/register or by phone at 360-417-2430.

The Jamestown S’Klallam Clinic is not providing first-dose vaccinations this week.

Appointments for Jefferson Healthcare’s clinic can be made at https://jefferson healthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine.

Clallam County confirmed four new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, while Jefferson County confirmed one new case.

Jefferson County has confirmed nine cases so far in April, about 2.54 percent of the 355 cases in the past year, according to county Public Health data.

Clallam County has confirmed 44 cases of COVID-19 so far this month, about 3.97 percent of the 1,109 cases during the past year, according to county data.

Forty-five COVID-19 cases were active as of Thursday in Clallam County. Jefferson County had seven active cases.

Jefferson County is in the state’s low-risk category with a case rate of about 22 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday, while Clallam County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 74 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior to Thursday.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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