Three deaths from COVID-19 on Peninsula

New cases may be leveling off, but activity remains high

Three Clallam County residents died from COVID-19 over the weekend, raising the total number of deaths on the North Olympic Peninsula due to the disease to 49, with 36 in Clallam.

The deaths include a man in his 70s and a man in his 50s, both of whom were unvaccinated, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties. The third death was a woman in her 60s who had received the first dose of a vaccine within two weeks of contracting the disease and was not fully protected, Berry said.

“It’s a loss to our community,” Berry said. “Our health care workers did a really good job on Friday of discussing how painful it is to take care of these folks and to see these people dying and even folks who are younger and healthier than we used to see before.

“When we see younger and healthier people dying, it’s almost universally people who are unvaccinated. I think it’s really important that this can happen to any of us — even if you’re young and healthy — and the best thing we can do to protect ourselves is to get vaccinated.”

Health officials are seeing what they believe is the start of new COVID-19 cases leveling off, but they’re continuing to be at extremely high rates and “we’re not out the woods yet,” Berry said.

Clallam County added 156 new COVID-19 cases on Monday from test results received Saturday and Sunday, while Jefferson County added 16 new cases, according to public health data.

Jefferson’s case rate climbed to 532.92 per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior as of Saturday. The increase is a slower rise than what was seen when the case rate jumped from 247.65 to 485.89 per 100,000 during the previous two weeks, according to public health data.

Clallam County’s case rate dropped slightly from 1,213 cases per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Friday down to 1,209 cases per 100,000 for the last two weeks as of Monday, public health data said.

Across the state and nation, the most recent COVID-19 surge appears to be leveling off, which is the first step before case rates could see significant decreases, although virus activity is still extremely high, Berry said.

In the state, most of the leveling off is being seen along the Interstate-5 corridor, while eastern parts of the state are still continuing to climb, Berry said.

“We’re certainly not out of the woods, but we’re at least starting to see those case rates level off,” Berry said. “It could be potentially leveling off in Jefferson as well.

“In both counties, case rates are still incredibly high. There is still a ton of COVID in the community; it’s still very risky out there. But we’re are starting to see some of the good efforts of our community members starting to pay off.

“The first thing we have to do is level those cases off and then we have to drive them down, and the best way to do that is to get vaccinated and to wear a mask,” she said.

The North Olympic Peninsula saw a slight decrease in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 over the weekend, on Monday reporting that four residents were hospitalized at Jefferson Healthcare and 13 at Olympic Medical Center, Berry said.

Clallam County has confirmed a total of 3,581 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Jefferson County has confirmed a total of 571 cases.

Since the beginning of February, 22.24 percent of new COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County have been among fully vaccinated residents, meaning 77.76 percent of cases have been among unvaccinated residents, according to county data.

Since the beginning of February in Clallam County, 9.9 percent of new COVID-19 cases have been among fully vaccinated residents, meaning 90.1 percent of cases have been among unvaccinated residents, according to county data.

The majority of new COVID-19 cases on the Peninsula continuing to be among unvaccinated residents, and Berry continues to urge all residents 12 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at zjablonski@peninsuladailynews.com.

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