State, county guidance continues at facility with COVID outbreak

State and Clallam County public health officials continued Tuesday to work on increasing transmission-prevention measures at a long-term care facility that has had 17 COVID-19 cases confirmed, 13 among residents and four among staff members.

State health officials plan to stay throughout the week to work with the staff at the facility, which Dr. Allison Berry, county public health officer, has not identified.

Continued cases among unvaccinated residents is expected, she added.

“I think we’re seeing what we anticipated, which is we’re going to keep seeing COVID-19 transmission primarily among unvaccinated populations and, unfortunately, we can see COVID-19 get into these vaccinated but highly vulnerable groups like long-term care facilities,” Berry said.

No new cases were confirmed Tuesday at either the long-term care facility or an unidentified church, which has had 13 people affiliated with it test positive for COVID-19.

All but one of those were unvaccinated.

The one vaccinated person who contracted the disease is elderly and therefore not well protected by the vaccine, Berry said, although she added that the person’s case is mild.

Vaccinations are less effective among elderly and immunosuppressed people, Berry has said.

“I think we’ve had really good cooperation with the church, and they’ve expressed interest in addressing vaccine hesitancy in their congregation,” she said.

Those exposed have been contacted and asked to self-isolate, Berry said.

The moderately large church has canceled services for the next few weeks, she added.

“My hope is that those who have been exposed to these recent outbreaks … I think these can be really good opportunities for learning, and the more that we can spread that the vaccine is excellent, it’s safe, it’s effective, and it’s how we’re preventing these outbreaks in the future,” Berry said.

“The more we do that, the safer we all will be, but as long as there are pockets of our population that aren’t getting vaccinated, we’re going to keep seeing transmission.”

Neither Berry nor Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, will identify the name of a place where an outbreak occurs unless they are unable to trace exposures, they have said.

Clallam County confirmed four new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, all family contacts of known cases, while Jefferson County confirmed four new cases late Monday and no new cases on Tuesday, health officers said.

Both Locke and Berry continue to urge residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Vaccination clinics on the North Olympic Peninsula can be found at www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/change-in-tactics-to-tackle-covid-beginning.

The state has a vaccination locator at https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov, which allows users to see where appointments are available and which vaccine will be used.

While all state residents 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, anyone younger than 18 can receive only Pfizer’s vaccine.

Fifty-eight cases have been confirmed in June so far in Clallam County, about 4.12 percent of 1,409 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data.

Jefferson County has confirmed 22 cases this month, about 5.01 percent of the 439 total cases since the pandemic began, according to county data.

Clallam County had two patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in the Intensive Care Unit on Tuesday. Jefferson County had at least one resident hospitalized.

Forty COVID-19 cases were active in Clallam County on Tuesday, while Jefferson County had 12 active cases.

Both counties are in the state’s moderate-risk category, with cases rates of 71 per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior as of Tuesday in Clallam County and 56.4 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday in Jefferson County.

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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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