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Here’s what we know so far regarding the COVID-19 outbreak for Clallam and Jefferson counties and around the world.
The count of cases and deaths is a moving target, with jurisdictions reporting sometimes-contradictory numbers. Ours might not match what other media are reporting.
• As of 11:59 p.m. Feb. 15, Washington state has 1,410,499 confirmed cases (meaning the person has the virus) and 11,522 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
• 2,927 cases in Jefferson County. 26 deaths.
• 10,551 cases in Clallam County. 99 deaths.
• 37,738 cases in Kitsap County. 308 deaths.
For other county numbers, visit www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus.
Thursday, Feb. 18
• The nation’s leading health officials said Wednesday that the U.S. is moving closer to the point that COVID-19 is no longer a “constant crisis” as more cities, businesses and sports venues began lifting pandemic restrictions around the country.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing that the government is contemplating a change to its mask guidance in the coming weeks. Noting recent declines in COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths, she acknowledged “people are so eager” for health officials to ease masking rules and other measures designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“We all share the same goal – to get to a point where COVID-19 is no longer disrupting our daily lives, a time when it won’t be a constant crisis – rather something we can prevent, protect against, and treat,” Walensky said.
Wednesday, Feb. 17
• A showdown appeared to be shaping up in Ottawa’s nearly three-week siege by truckers protesting the country’s COVID-19 restrictions as police in the capital warned drivers Wednesday to leave immediately or risk arrest.
The big rigs parked outside Parliament represented the movement’s last stronghold after demonstrators abandoned their sole remaining truck blockade along the U.S. border.
With that, all border crossings were open for the first time in more than two weeks of unrest, centering attention on the capital, where drivers defiantly ripped up warnings telling them to go home.
Tuesday, Feb. 16
• Two California Democratic lawmakers took separate aim Tuesday at pandemic disinformation they argue receives a broad audience and misplaced credibility through social media platforms — rejecting concerns that their legislation might carry free speech or business privacy considerations.
Sen. Richard Pan’s proposal, which still is being finalized, would require online platforms like Facebook to publicly disclose how their algorithms work and how they promote user content, including which data sets are used and how they rank the prominence of user posts.
The platforms would also be required to confidentially share more detailed information with researchers, with the goal of creating more responsible algorithms.
Monday, Feb. 15
• When nurse Julia Buffo was told by her Montana hospital that she had to be vaccinated against COVID-19, she responded by filling out paperwork declaring that the shots run afoul of her religious beliefs.
She cited various Old and New Testament verses including a passage from Revelation that vaccine opponents often quote to liken the shots to the “Mark of the Beast.” She told her managers that God is the “ultimate guardian of health” and that accepting the vaccine would make her “complicit with evil.”
Religious exemptions like the one Buffo obtained are increasingly becoming a workaround for unvaccinated hospital and nursing home workers who want to keep their jobs in the face of federal mandates that are going into effect nationwide this week.
Friday, Feb. 11
• From all across France, protesters angry over pandemic restrictions drove toward Paris Friday in scattered convoys of camper vans, cars and trucks in an effort to defy a police ban and blockade the French capital.
Waving French flags and shouting “freedom,” the protesters organized online, galvanized in part by truckers who have blockaded Canada’s capital and blocked border crossings. The French action has no single leader or goal, and comes as months of protests against French government vaccination rules have been waning.
Armored police vehicles, riot police vans and more than 7,000 police officers were deployed at tollbooths around Paris, the glamorous Champs-Elysee avenue and other key sites to try to prevent a blockade. Police stopped and checked select vehicles and threatened heavy fines and other punishments for those who defy the protest ban, which authorities said was necessary to prevent “risk to public order.”
Thursday, Feb. 10
• New research suggests the coronavirus can invade and destroy the placenta and lead to stillbirths in infected women.
It’s an uncommon outcome for any pregnancy but women with COVID-19 face an elevated risk. Authorities believe vaccination can help prevent these cases.
Researchers in 12 countries, including the United States, analyzed placental and autopsy tissue from 64 stillbirths and four newborns who died shortly after birth. The cases all involved unvaccinated women who had COVID-19 during their pregnancy.
Wednesday, Feb. 9
• Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that starting late next week, elective surgeries can resume in the state and a mask mandate for large outdoor events will be lifted, but said the indoor mask mandate will remain in place for now.
However based on dropping COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state, Inslee said he expects to be able to share a date next week on when indoor masking requirements, including at schools, can be lifted.
“I agree with CDC that today is not the day to totally eliminate masks, but it is a day that is rapidly approaching,” he said at a news conference.
• The Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce has updated its listing of restaurants that are currently open under COVID-19 restrictions:
• Via The Associated Press: What you need to know today about the virus outbreak.
Washington 211 COVID-19 Call Center. Do you need information or answers to your questions and concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? You can call 1-800-525-0127 or text 211-211 for help.
You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are.
You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students and more.
Do you need support due to stress from COVID-19? Call Washington Listens, a line that provides nonclinical support to people experiencing elevated stress due to COVID-19.
People who call Washington Listens will speak to a support specialist and receive information and connection to community resources in their area.
The program is anonymous and no identifying information is maintained. People who staff Washington Listens will receive basic training needed to provide support to individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To reach Washington Listens, call 1-833-681-0211 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Read the Washington Listens fact sheet.
A smartphone app has been launched statewide. It can alert users if they come into close contact with someone who has been exposed to COVID-19.
Gov. Jay Inslee, along with the state Department of Health (DOH), announced the launch of WA Notify on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The app is an anonymous exposure notification tool meant to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
By adding WA Notify to their smartphones, state residents can be alerted if they spent time near another WA Notify user who later records that they have tested positive for COVID-19.
To turn on WA Notify on an iPhone:
- Go to Settings
- Scroll down to Exposure Notifications
- Click “Turn On Exposure Notifications”
- Select United States
- Select Washington
If you haven’t received a notification on your iPhone, you may need to check your device’s notification settings and make sure you’re on the latest iPhone firmware. You may also need to check to see whether Government Alerts are enabled on your device.
DOH also lists installation instructions for the Android app, which users must download to opt into the service. The department asks you to search for the “Washington Exposure Notifications app” — but you should instead search for “WA Notify”:
- Go to the Google Play Store
- Download the WA Notify app
Department of Health launches Care Connect Washington. The new service is meant to help people who have to isolate or quarantine at home after testing positive for COVID-19 or being exposed.
Care Connect Washington, working with local health jurisdictions and their partners, will provide critical resources to people who need support when they’re staying home. Care coordinators will connect people to community-based services such as medication delivery, health care, help applying for unemployment, local housing agencies, food banks, childcare providers and more.
“People who receive help meeting essential social and health needs are more likely to complete home isolation and quarantine successfully,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary of Health for COVID-19 response. “Care Connect Washington will help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help families get through what could be a hard time by making sure they have what they need.”
Care Connect Washington will be available to people who qualify for it via referral. Referrals come from a variety of sources, including case investigators or contact tracers, who ask about each person’s ability to successfully home isolate or quarantine. Help will be made available based on need.
COVID-19 information & best practices
What is the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, known as SARS-CoV-2, is the virus strain identified in January that causes COVID-19, coronavirus disease, and is spreading from person to person.
Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?
Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
There are some key differences between flu and COVID-19. COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer.
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. More information about differences between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different sections below.
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.
While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.
It’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter. Healthcare systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with flu and patients with COVID-19. This means getting a flu vaccine during 2021-2022 is more important than ever.
While getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19 there are many important benefits, such as:
1. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death.
2. Getting a flu vaccine can also save healthcare resources for the care of patients with COVID-19.
COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person, mainly by the following routes:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes, sings or talks.
- Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.
- People who are infected but do not have symptoms can also spread the virus to others.
Less common ways COVID-19 can spread
- Under certain circumstances (for example, when people are in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation), COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission.
- COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces.
What to do if you’re sick
• If you suspect you have COVID-19, isolate at home during illness. Restrict activities outside of the home except for getting medical care. Call ahead unless you are in crisis.
• Call 360-417-2430, a hotline that provides local information on the infection.
For more information on COVID-19 testing, click here.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
As a reminder, according to the CDC, here are recommended everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
For more information on using cloth face coverings and how to make your own, click here.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
• Once home from work, school, running errands, etc., immediately wash your hands.
• Consider purchasing the following supplies: extra fluids and hydrating drinks (Gatorade and Pedialyte); food for when you’re sick (soups, broths, crackers, honey, nonperishable items); pain and fever medications (acetaminophen or ibuprofen); cough drops and cough medications; prescription medications; tissues; household cleaners (bleach, alcohol, soap, disinfecting wipes).
• You should wash your phone, too. Here’s how.