Three new COVID-19 cases confirmed on the Peninsula

2 in Clallam; 1 in Jefferson

Two more cases of COVID-19 in Clallam County and one in Jefferson County were confirmed, it was announced Thursday, bringing the total number of cases on the North Olympic Peninsula to 118.

As of Thursday, Clallam County had 68 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Jefferson County had 50 confirmed cases, after an additional case was found late Wednesday.

Two people are currently hospitalized in Jefferson County with more severe cases of COVID-19. Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said he believed they were stable as of Thursday.

The Peninsula has seen a surge of COVID-19 cases over the last week. Since Saturday, 18 new cases have been confirmed overall, with Clallam and Jefferson counties each adding nine cases.

Many of the new cases in Clallam County have been traced to Fourth of July celebrations, including one of the two newest cases, a female teen who contracted the virus from another person who had attended a celebration where the outbreak occurred, said Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer.

Unthank stressed that people should not party with people outside their household.

The other cases in Jefferson and Clallam counties are people who are believed to have contracted the virus from other known cases in their respective counties, Locke and Unthank said.

As of Thursday, Clallam County had tested 6,893 people, with 68 positive tests and 6,632 negative tests. Jefferson County had tested more than 3,926 people, with 50 positive tests and 3,833 negative tests, according to county public health reports.

Forty-one people have recovered from COVID-19 in Clallam County and 33 people have recovered in Jefferson County.

If directed to go into quarantine due to being exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, people need to stay quarantined for the full 14 days, Unthank emphasized.

Some people believe that if they get tested for COVID-19 while in quarantine and their tests return negative, they can leave it, she said. But since the incubation period of the virus is known to last up to 14 days, even if someone gets a negative test at the beginning of quarantine, that person can still become positive later on.

“We had that happen at least once already,” Unthank said, “where someone thought they could leave quarantine because they tested negative and then they turned positive like three days later.

“Everyone does have to stay in quarantine for the 14 days, because it is a real risk.”

Unthank said that it is currently more likely for more people to go into quarantine due to the number of cases in both counties, and she recommends people have basic food they would need for two weeks, medications for the two weeks and “things that will make you feel comfortable at home.”

Both counties do have support networks for people in quarantine in case they need groceries, medications delivered or have other needs.

Both health officers continued their encouragement for people to wear face masks indoors with people outside of their household and outside when they can not social distance.

Masks catch droplets that may possibly be contaminated with COVID-19 — which has been proven to have asymptomatic transmission — and provide some protection to the wearer from breathing it in.

“Masks are very effective with collecting respiratory secretions,” Locke said.

Locke also clarified that face shields are not good for source control, as droplets easily disperse out from the person wearing it. A face shield protects the eyes, but droplets still can be breathed in.

“What you breathe out is just kind of freely dispersed in the environment instead of being trapped,” Locke said. “We really don’t have any evidence that face shields are effective for source control.”

Both Locke and Unthank said that the safe reopening of businesses, schools and other gathering places depends upon people taking the pandemic seriously and using preventative measures such as wearing face masks, social distancing and not gathering in large groups.

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

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