PORT ANGELES — Monday was a tough day to work in a restaurant and have children in school in Clallam and Jefferson counties.
As a shortage of COVID-19 test kits re-emerged, school districts prepared to shut down during the ongoing pandemic until at least until April 27.
Gov. Jay Inslee also announced a minimum two-week statewide closure of sit-down service at restaurants, bars and entertainment venues to stem the spread of the virus. The ban applies to theaters and gyms.
Inslee also banned gatherings of more than 50 participants for both indoor and outdoor events.
Restaurants will be allowed to complete take-out orders and can utilize such services as DoorDash, an online delivery service available in Port Angeles.
“I had a very strong feeling that the governor was going to do this,” Kokopelli Grill and Coyote BBQ Pub owner Michael McQuay of Port Angeles said Monday.
He and a few employees were shutting down Kokopelli’s.
McQuay, who had already closed the Coyote, had to lay off 55 people.
“I just saw the writing on the wall,” McQuay said.
Most schools in Clallam and Jefferson counties also closed at the end of Monday until the end of April. Port Angeles School District schools were closed Monday.
“The buses are leaving as we speak,” Crescent Schools Superintendent Dave Bingham said Monday afternoon.
“We went around to every single classroom and talked with the kids just a little about encouraging them to stay involved in school-type activities, and talked to them a little about what we are trying to do to support them while they are away.”
Information on individual school closures is available on school websites in both Clallam and Jefferson counties.
Inslee also is limiting both indoor and outdoor gatherings to 50 participants — except for most businesses — following recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control.
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s 7 Cedars Casino was scheduled to shut down at midnight for two weeks, said Jerry Allen, 7 Cedars Casino/Resort CEO, late Monday.
YMCA locations in Sequim, Port Angeles and Jefferson County also are closing for two weeks due to Inslee’s emergency declaration to close recreational facilities, according to a press release.
The YMCA will continue to provide full-day childcare services to families in need during school closures at licensed childcare sites beginning Tuesday at Dry Creek Elementary School in Port Angeles and Salish Coast Elementary School in Port Townsend.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if this lasted at least two more months,” Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry Unthank said Monday at a daily COVID-19 briefing.
Unthank and Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke consult regularly on the virus, she has said.
“Two to three months is what Dr. Locke and I have been saying, but it really depends on how it goes,” she said.
“It depends on the response, and how much support we get.”
There were no confirmed cases of Clallam County residents with the respiratory illness as of Monday.
Unthank said 79 tests had been conducted, yielding 17 negative results with 62 tests pending.
Two Clallam County residents had contact with COVID-19-positive King County residents over the weekend, she said.
Contact-tracing protocols are being conducted with those people, she said.
“Some of them were tested over the weekend, and theirs are pending, and some of them are in quarantine at this point,” she said.
“Some King County residents had started coming to the Peninsula because our bars and restaurants [were] open, and theirs are not.”
According to the state Department of Health, as of Monday afternoon, 420 of 769 cases of the coronavirus cases in Washington are King County residents.
Six more people died of the new coronavirus in King County, health officials reported Monday. They ranged in age from 50 to 90 and included a resident of a nursing center in Redmond.
The number of positive cases in the state Monday rose to more than 900 including 48 deaths, state health officials reported.
There has been no community transmission of the virus in Clallam and Jefferson counties.
Locke said Monday that 133 Jefferson County residents had been tested, yielding 72 negative results with 58 tests pending.
“All of these individual are ill, all of the individuals have fevers and respiratory symptoms,” Locke said.
A third confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in Jefferson County, Locke reported Sunday.
That man, in his 40s, appears to have been exposed in the Seattle area and was showing mild, flu-like symptoms.
He is in isolation, and his test is pending, Locke said.
Jefferson Healthcare has been screening respiratory illness patients separately from the others in a dedicated COVID-19/Repiratory Illness Evaluation Station, and it will be expanding to have drive-thru testing today, said Amy Yaley, Jefferson Healthcare communications director.
President Donald Trump later Monday issued voluntary guidelines limiting gatherings to 10 people or less.
Inslee’s restrictions are identical to Centers for Disease Control recommendations.
“We are following the state standard,” Locke said.
“Number 2, we do pay close attention to the CDC standards.
“I will say bluntly that I pay no attention to the White House standards.
“I seek advice and I urge the people to seek advice from medical experts.”
Clallam County Emergency Management spokesperson Peter Raiswell said the county is following the mandated maximum level of 50 persons.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski contributed to this report.