Two new COVID-19 cases added in Clallam County

State’s Phase 3 restart may look a little different

Clallam County added two COVID-19 cases to its total while Jefferson County held steady with no new cases for the fifth consecutive day.

The case rate for each county remained the same Wednesday, with 18 infections per 100,000 population for the past 14 days for Clallam County and 3.13 cases per 100,000 for Jefferson County for the same time period.

Clallam County has had 229 confirmed cases since March, with 12 active cases and one death, Clallam County Public Health data said.

Jefferson County has had 71 confirmed cases since March, with five active cases and no deaths, Jefferson County Public Health data said.

The new cases in Clallam County remained under investigation Wednesday, said Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer. One person in the county is currently hospitalized, she said.

“She’s doing pretty well, but she will probably be there a little bit longer,” Unthank said.

Both Unthank and Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke participated in a conference call with the state Department of Health and other health officers late Wednesday afternoon.

Both Unthank and Locke expected the meeting to focus on the “Safe Start” application process. They believe it may be reopened soon, but in a different form.

“I expect the state will reopen — or at least restart — the Phase 3 opening, but I expect it will look different than it did before,” Unthank said. “I think one of the things we learned from the prior experience is that things probably moved a little too fast.

“We certainly saw a significant spike in cases around the reopening, and so I anticipate the state and the other local health officers will make a recommendation to restart reopening a little more cautiously and in a little bit more measured matter,” she added.

Locke agreed.

“We’re anticipating — although they will probably use some of the same data — it’s going to be a pretty dramatically revamped program because what we’ve learned at this point is we have not suppressed COVID-19 infection in Washington enough to do the kind of reopenings that we had envisioned earlier in the summer,” he said.

“The openings that did happen and some other things kind of triggered a resurgence of the infection,” Locke continued.

“So, we have to apply that new knowledge to keep things under control and open very cautiously, focusing on the things that we know are low risk for transmission.

“I think, given the fact that we’ve done a really good job in Jefferson County of controlling things, I would anticipate what sort of openings are permitted, that we’d certainly be eligible for them.”

In part of the reopening discussions, Unthank has been working with the Clallam County public school district superintendents about starting to bring some students back into the classrooms. She hopes that will start in early October.

“Our superintendents are really looking forward to reopening,” Unthank said. “I think a lot of teachers, students and certainly parents are, too.

“Of course, we want to do school reopening in a measured fashion as well, to make sure that we can do it safely, but I do think there are good protocols in place, and right now it is looking really quite promising that we can move forward with that.

“I think having this extra time has been really helpful to go over those protocols and see where any weaknesses or gaps of understanding were, so everybody is ready to hit the ground running to do it safely.”

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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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