Travel could cause COVID surge

Health officers encourage 7-day quarantine

Students and families who traveled over spring break are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 if they show any symptoms of viral infection, Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said.

Seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported Sunday on the North Olympic Peninsula, which had seen an uptick in cases among its younger, unvaccinated population.

Clallam County residents who are 18 and older can reserve a spot beginning at 9 a.m. today for mass vaccination clinics next weekend at Port Angeles High School.

To schedule a shot, visit www.clallam.net/coronavirus/vaccine.html.

Jefferson County residents who are 18 and older can now register for a Saturday vaccination event at Chimacum High School.

Visit www.jeffersoncountypublichealth.org and click on COVID-19 updates.

Public schools in Washington were on spring break last week, causing health officials to brace for a potential surge in cases related to travel, Locke said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that unvaccinated travelers quarantine for seven days upon their return.

“The ideal is to get tested three to five days upon return and kind of lie low for seven days and don’t return to a work environment,” Locke said in a Sunday interview.

Those who have had one dose of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are considered to be 80-percent protected from COVID-19, Locke said.

“One dose is much better than no doses,” Locke said.

“At a minimum, what’s really important for people who are vaccinated is watch for symptoms. At the first sign of symptoms, get tested.”

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, and loss of taste or smell, according to the CDC (www.cdc.gov).

Clallam County added four new cases of COVID-19 Sunday for a total of 1,127 since March 2020, county Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry said in a text message.

Jefferson County added three cases Sunday for a total of 361, Locke said.

Ron Cameron, Clallam County’s undersheriff and emergency management director, said more than 800 county residents received a Moderna vaccine at the Saturday clinic at Port Angeles High School.

Moderna shots will be provided at the same free clinic this Saturday. Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be administered there Sunday, Cameron said.

Berry hammered home the importance of vaccinations in her weekly COVID-19 briefing Friday, saying the current case curve matches the rise in cases after Thanksgiving.

Last week, Clallam County had outbreaks in restaurants, bars, a dental clinic and the Peninsula College women’s basketball team.

Clallam County heath officials have documented the B117 variant that emerged in the United Kingdom last December.

“The vaccines still work really well against these variants, but unfortunately most of these cases are in unvaccinated people,” Berry said in her briefing.

“If you are not vaccinated yet, it is time to get vaccinated.”

In addition to the Port Angeles clinics, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe will administer one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines in Sequim on April 20 and April 22.

“The key thing is to get vaccinated as soon as you can,” Berry said.

“It makes a huge difference in controlling the direction of the pandemic.”

Jefferson County now has the capacity to administer about three times the amount of vaccine it receives from the state, Locke said.

“We wish we had more vaccine,” Locke said.

“When it comes, we’ll be ready for it.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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