9 new COVID-19 cases in Clallam County

Nine new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Clallam County, but the case rate per 100,000 population for the past two weeks has dropped to 85, health officials said Monday.

As of Aug. 24, Clallam County had 195 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March, and Jefferson County added one new case, with its total at 68 positive cases since March, public health officials said.

Fifty-two cases have recovered in Jefferson County, and 144 cases have recovered in Clallam County.

Clallam County is in the state’s high-risk category with 84 cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, and Jefferson County is in the moderate-risk category with 37.6 cases per 100,000 people, county health officers said.

In comparison, the statewide rate is 108.2 cases per 100,000 in the past two weeks, and King County has a rate of about 69 cases, said Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer.

Of the new cases in Clallam County reported Monday, four are within one household, two are within another, and the remaining three are unrelated. All are believed to have contracted the virus through community transmission, Unthank said.

Despite the new positives on Monday, the case rate dropped from a high of 97.4 because the larger uptick in cases two weeks ago are beyond the counting period, which is from the day the cases are tested, not the day the cases are reported, Unthank said.

The new case in Jefferson County was being investigated Monday, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

Of the cases reported in the past week in Jefferson County, one was found to be connected to a recent outbreak of more than 30 patients and employees at St. Michael Medical Center, formerly known as Harrison Hospital in Bremerton, Locke said.

“(The outbreak) illustrates the dangers healthcare workers face when taking care of patients with COVID-19,” Locke said.

Meanwhile, health officials are still discussing school options with superintendents in both counties. Clallam County school districts are planning to start online, while Jefferson County schools districts are planning on using a mix of hybrid online and in-person learning.

Jefferson County has moved into the moderate-risk category from the low-risk category in the past week, Locke said.

Locke planned to meet with Jefferson County school superintendents today to discuss the plans and what the rising case numbers mean. He also planned to hear from the superintendents on whether they feel they should continue with their current plans or modify them.

“I’ve told school districts that they need to be flexible and have a main plan and a contingency plan,” Locke said.

Although the prevalence of the COVID-19 has gone up in Jefferson County, Locke doesn’t believe there has been a major change in transmission numbers, since five of the 12 recent cases already were in quarantine before they produced a positive test, he said.

Locke is urging parents to be cautious and to understand that partaking in high-risk activities, such as traveling to high-prevalence areas or gathering for parties, puts their students, their classmates and teachers at risk as well.

“Your choices impact other families,” he said.

Both Unthank and Locke are expecting cases to rise in fall due to more people being inside, and Unthank is urging people to remain cautious to bring the current case numbers down in order to limit a potential spike in the months to come.

“The only way we can go into fall safely is if we have low case numbers, which we don’t have right now,” she said.

OMC offering drive-through COVID-19 testing

Olympic Medical Center has a drive-through COVID-19 testing site open daily from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. seven days a week, for community members who are case contacts without symptoms and pre-procedural testing.

The drive-up testing site is in the parking lot immediately west of 1035 Caroline St. in Port Angeles.

Community members with symptoms should talk to their primary care providers or go to the Walk-in Clinic or emergency department to seek appropriate care, OMC stated in a press release.

Originally scheduled to open Aug. 24, OMC leadership chose to make it available early due to a high number of known exposures in the community, the release stated.

Patients will not be billed for COVID-19 tests.

“However, in most cases, a patient’s health insurance will be billed if they have it,” said Dr. Josh Jones, chief physician officer, Olympic Medical Physicians. “Additional services and treatments may be billed as well.

“Insurance billing exceptions occur for tests run through the state lab for specific contact tracing purposes – those are not billed to insurance.”

Jefferson Healthcare in Port Townsend has had a drive-through testing clinic since this spring. To make an appointment, call 360-344-3094.