Two new cases of COVID-19 in Clallam, none in Jefferson

Officials: Friends, not tourist, most risky

Clallam County added two more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed infections since March to 94, while Jefferson County held at 51.

One of the new cases in Clallam is an elderly man who was hospitalized as of Thursday, said Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer.

Health officials were still investigating the possible sources of the two newest cases, Unthank said Thursday.

Seventy-eight of Clallam County’s COVID-19 cases have recovered, and 41 of Jefferson County’s cases have recovered, said Unthank and Jefferson County Public Health.

Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, said officials do not know the source of the county’s Wednesday case, as the woman potentially had both in-county and out-of-county exposure, he said.

The North Olympic Peninsula had reported 145 confirmed cases of the virus as of Thursday.

No deaths have been attributed to the disease in either county.

Forks clinic

The tests from Sunday’s free clinic in Forks have returned “some positives,” and Unthank noted a slight increase in cases in Forks, but said she could not give an exact number because she wanted to protect the identities of those who are infected.

“It’s a small community. A lot of people know who went to the testing,” Unthank said. “We have had some increasing cases on the West End, and none are thought to be linked to tourism.

“They are, in fact, more likely linked to the extended contacts from the Fourth of July gathering.”

Although the Peninsula has had a rise in tourism over the last few weeks, both health officers said people are more at risk of getting infected by friends and family than tourists.

“We really have not seen any cases that are directly linked to tourism,” Locke said.

“If we only focus on the tourists, you’re not going to be as careful with the people who are actually more likely to give you COVID-19,” Unthank said, “which is your friends.”

“Spending time around friends and family who don’t live in your household is the most likely way that you’ll contract COVID-19,” she added. “Being the most cautious in those interactions are what’s going to keep folks safe.”

Infection rates appear to be going down across the Peninsula, with Clallam County’s daily case counts slowing and Jefferson County having one case confirmed in two weeks, Locke and Unthank said.

“We’re hoping that trend will continue,” Unthank said. “We do know that COVID-19 is circulating in our community, and in order to get those numbers to go down and keep us moving forward, we have to be very cautious in those in-person interactions.”

Both counties have several residents in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19 cases, with more than 200 people quarantined in Clallam and 18 people in Jefferson, Locke and Unthank said.

The public health departments of each county support those in quarantine — helping with groceries, getting medications and other chores — as people are supposed to stay in quarantine for 14 days, even if they had a negative test before that two-week period ended, Locke and Unthank said.

Requiring people to stay in quarantine for 14 days even after a negative test is because people can turn positive later on — possibly infecting other people if they break quarantine — as the incubation period for COVID-19 is two to 14 days, Unthank has previously said.

Both health officers continue to work with local school districts on plans for the upcoming academic year as case rates need to be lower than 25 per 100,000 per two weeks for in-person instruction to resume, and districts such as Port Angeles and Port Townsend are planning hybrid in-person and remote learning.

Both Unthank and Locke said those who want to report a business that is not following statewide face mask directives can contact state Labor & Industries directly.

Instructions and form to file a written complaint are here.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.

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