Clallam County residents can report positive COVID-19 cases through an online portal rather than call a COVID-19 hotline.
The link went live Monday afternoon, and health officials said better reporting of COVID-19 cases will give them a more complete picture of the health risk in the county, which is currently in the state’s moderate-risk category.
New COVID-19 cases can be reported at https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/5b381c224d8d45459c67c39ffa305f8f.
Previously, if Clallam County residents wanted to report a positive COVID-19 case, they would have to call a hotline. The online reporting system is similar to one implemented in Jefferson County, where those with positive tests fill out a form. That data is collected by the Jefferson County Health Department.
This reporting method has demonstrated a growing rate of COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County, providing a more accurate picture of the health risk.
Jefferson County updated its case numbers from last Friday, adding 32 additional positives for a total of 3,327 since the pandemic began, said Dr. Allison Berry, the health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.
The case rate of 270 per 100,000 population reported Friday was correct, Berry said.
Jefferson County updates its COVID-19 information on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Clallam County added 18 new cases Monday, bringing its total from 11,130 on Friday to 11,148 since the pandemic began with a case rate of 117 per 100,000, a decrease from a rate of 145 per 100,000 on Friday.
Berry previously said it’s likely that case numbers and case rates in Clallam County are being undercounted and that the case rate is closer to the 200 mark per 100,000.
“Case rates fluctuate day to day,” she said. “Unfortunately, I think this is a temporary downturn in rates having more due to a delay in reporting from the state.”
Jefferson County gets its case reporting directly from the county health department while Clallam gets its case reporting from the state Department of Health.
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.
Berry also discussed Monday’s ruling from a federal judge in Florida which struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mandate for masking on public transportation.
“I think it is concerning when we see these mandates from the CDC revoked,” she said. “We are likely to see more transmission in these closed, indoor spaces like planes, trains and buses.”
U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said the mandate exceeds the authority of U.S. health officials and that the CDC failed to justify the decision to require masking on public transit when much of the rest of the country has lifted masking mandates.
The decision is particularly timely as the country comes to the end of the spring break travel period and the start of the summer travel period.
Berry said there has been a small spike in COVID-19 cases regionally in students and educational staff returning from spring break and holiday celebrations, although there hasn’t been a surge in-class transmission.
“We’ve definitely seen more positive cases among kids and staff, but we have not seen a significant rise in classroom transmission yet,” Berry said. “By and large, we have been catching the cases before they spread through in-school testing.”
Reporter Ken Park can be reached by email at email@example.com.