Two die of COVID-19 but overall case rates decline

Governor to lift emergency order Oct. 31

Two more people have died from COVID-19, one Jefferson County resident and one Clallam County resident, raising each county’s total deaths from the virus since it began over two years ago.

Despite the two new deaths, which were reported since Aug. 29, COVID-19 case rates in both counties continue to decline, according to public health officials.

Clallam County reported 309 cases per 100,000 population by Friday, for a total of 15,410 cases diagnosed since the pandemic began.

That’s down from the case rate of 363 per 100,000 population reported Aug. 29

Jefferson County reported a case rate of 345 per 100,000 with a total of 5,648 cases diagnosed since the pandemic began.

That’s down from a case rate of 448 per 100,000 population reported Aug. 29.

As case rates appear to be falling statewide, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the state of emergency order that went into effect in February 2020 concerning the unique coronovirus will be lifted on Oct. 31 in light of adjustments made to an endemic virus.

“We have come a long way in the past two years in developing the tools that allow us to adapt and live with COVID-19,” Inslee said in a press release.

“Ending this order does not mean we take it less seriously or will lose focus on how this virus has changed the way we live,” he said.

“We will continue our commitments to the public well-being but simply through different tools that are more appropriate for the era we have entered.”

The Clallam County resident who died of COVID-19 was a woman in her 70s who was unvaccinated and had underlying health conditions, according to Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Berry said the deceased Jefferson County woman was in her 80s and also had underlying health conditions. She had received the initial series of vaccinations but none of the recommended boosters.

Though Inslee’s emergency order will be lifted, some things, such as masking in healthcare facilities, still will be required per direction from the state department of health.

Vaccine requirements for healthcare workers and those working in public education will be lifted. However, employers may still require vaccination in their terms of employment.

Employees of state agencies still will be required to get vaccinated.

“I think it’s appropriate to lift the emergency orders at this point,” Berry said.

”We are in a different phase of the pandemic, but my hope is that people will still exercise caution even when things aren’t mandatory.

“It is appropriate to have emergency declarations when we really are at risk of catastrophic failure of society, of healthcare, that’s really what those orders are for,” she added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Sept. 2 that it had signed off on a new COVID-19 booster shot for youth 12 to 17.

This is the same vaccine that has been approved for those 18 and older. It specifically targets the Omicron variant and its sub-variants such as B.A. 4 and B.A. 5.

The booster will be available at clinics across both Jefferson and Clallam counties starting next week.

“The vaccine is just now arriving in both counties,” Berry said. “It just showed up today actually.

“Generally, you will want to go to wherever you receive your primary care or local pharmacies which will be carrying it,” she continued. “We have some at both health departments as well.”

Berry warned that there may be some shortages up front, so the vaccine will be prioritized for those most in need, such as those 65 and older, individuals who are moderate to severely immunocompromised, healthcare workers and emergency responders.

Case rates are a reflection of cases reported during a two-week period. They are computed using a formula based on 100,000 population even for counties that do not have 100,000 people living in them

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].

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