The Peninsula Daily News site has lifted the paywall on this and other coronavirus-related stories to provide readers with critical information. To support vital reporting such as this, please consider a digital subscription.
Find all of our coronavirus stories here.
Do you have a question about the outbreak? Maybe we can answer it or find out for you. Email us your question.
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. Sept. 16, Washington state has 553,326 confirmed cases (meaning the person has the virus) and 7,201 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
• 914 cases in Jefferson County. 13 deaths.
• 3,815 cases in Clallam County. 39 deaths.
• 13,885 cases in Kitsap County. 162 deaths.
For other county numbers, visit www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus.
Friday, Sept. 17
• Dealing the White House a stinging setback, a government advisory panel overwhelmingly rejected a plan Friday to give Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots across the board, and instead endorsed the extra vaccine dose only for those who are 65 or older or run a high risk of severe disease.
The twin votes represented a heavy blow to the Biden administration’s sweeping effort, announced a month ago, to shore up nearly all Americans’ protection amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
The nonbinding recommendation — from an influential committee of outside experts who advise the Food and Drug Administration — is not the last word. The FDA will consider the group’s advice and make its own decision, probably within days. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to weigh in next week.
Thursday, Sept. 16
• In another ominous sign about the spread of the delta variant, Idaho public health leaders on Thursday expanded health care rationing statewide and individual hospital systems in Alaska and Montana have enacted similar crisis standards amid a spike in the number of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization.
The decisions marked an escalation of the pandemic in several Western states struggling to convince skeptical people to get vaccinated.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare made the announcement after St. Luke’s Health System, Idaho’s largest hospital network, asked state health leaders to allow “crisis standards of care” because the increase in COVID-19 patients has exhausted the state’s medical resources.
Wednesday, Sept. 15
• Influential government advisers will debate Friday if there’s enough proof that a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective — the first step toward deciding which Americans need one and when.
The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday posted much of the evidence its advisory panel will consider. The agency struck a decidedly neutral tone on the rationale for boosters — an unusual and careful approach that’s all the more striking after President Joe Biden and his top health advisers trumpeted a booster campaign they hoped to begin next week.
Pfizer’s argument: While protection against severe disease is holding strong in the U.S., immunity against milder infection wanes somewhere around six to eight months after the second dose. The company gave an extra dose to 306 people at that point and recorded levels of virus-fighting antibodies threefold higher than after the earlier shots.
Tuesday, Sept. 14
• The U.K. announced Tuesday it will offer a third dose of coronavirus vaccine to everyone over 50 and other vulnerable people to help the country ride out the pandemic through the winter months.
The booster shots, which will be rolled out beginning next week, were approved a day after the Conservative government also backed plans to offer one vaccine dose to children 12 to 15 years old.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, which advises the government, recommended that booster shots be offered to everyone over 50, health care workers, people with underlying health conditions and those who live with people whose immune systems are compromised. They will be given no earlier than six months after a person received their second dose of vaccine.
Monday, Sept. 13
• Other countries have lured doctors out of retirement, pushed medical students to the front lines and buoyed medical personnel exhausted by COVID-19 cases, but in Nicaragua doctors have been harassed, threatened and sometimes forced into exile for questioning official handling of the pandemic.
Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is also the first lady, has accused doctors of “health terrorism” and of spreading “false outlooks and news” by reporting that COVID-19 has been far more widespread than officials acknowledge.
As international health organizations warn of increasing infections in Nicaragua and independent Nicaraguan doctors call for a voluntary quarantine to slow the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, the government has made clear that comments out of step with its line are unacceptable as President Daniel Ortega seeks a fourth consecutive term.
Saturday, Sept. 11
• Darkness set in for Natasha Blunt well before Hurricane Ida knocked out power across Louisiana.
Months into the pandemic, she faced eviction from her New Orleans apartment. She lost her job at a banquet hall. She suffered two strokes. And she struggled to help her 5-year-old grandson keep up with schoolwork at home.
Like nearly a fifth of the state’s population — disproportionately represented by Black residents and women — Blunt, 51, lives below the poverty line, and the economic fallout of the pandemic sent her to the brink. With the help of a legal aid group and grassroots donors, she moved to Chalmette, a few miles outside New Orleans, and tried to settle into a two-bedroom apartment. Using a cane and taking a slew of medications since her strokes, she was unable to return to work. But federal benefits kept food in the fridge for the most part.
Friday, Sept. 10
• Hoping to prevent another school year from being upended by the pandemic, President Joe Biden visited a Washington middle school Friday to push his new COVID plan, accusing some Republican governors of being “cavalier” with the health of children.
Biden’s plan, announced a day earlier, would require vaccinations for up to 100 million Americans and seek to ramp up virus testing. With those measures in place, he said, schools should present little risk for transmission of the coronavirus.
“I want folks to know that we’re going to be OK,” Biden said during an appearance at Brookland Middle School, a short drive from the White House. “We know what it takes to keep our kids safe and our schools open.”
• 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.