Clallam County man in 70s dies of COVID-19

A Clallam County man in his 70s has died from COVID-19 after he had been hospitalized due to complications from the virus, a health official said.

The man, who had diabetes, died Sunday, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

His death is the 17th attributed to the virus in the county and the 21st across the North Olympic Peninsula since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Berry said the man had received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, but he contracted the virus five days after the his shot — before he was fully protected.

It takes about two weeks for a person’s immune system to receive the full protection after the final dose of Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines, she said.

“This gentleman was vaccinated, but he was vaccinated too late,” Berry said. “It wasn’t effective yet.”

“Cases like this are a reminder to the importance of getting vaccinated right now,” Berry added. “This was a gentleman who wanted to get vaccinated, but didn’t get around to it for a while, and unfortunately didn’t get around to it until it was too late.”

The man was not connected to any outbreaks in Clallam County; he was exposed to the virus by a community member, Berry said.

She urges anyone who is still on the fence about getting vaccinated to do so as soon as possible, especially as the variants of the original COVID-19 virus continue to spread.

“I’ve heard from some members of the community that they want to wait a little while, wait a couple of months and see if more data comes out,” Berry said. “I think it’s important to remember there is already a mountain of data about the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine and the dangerous variants circulating right now.

“If you wait too long, you could unfortunately be exposed to the virus before you’re vaccinated or before your vaccine takes effect.”

Data compiled by the state Department of Health shows 74.1 percent of Jefferson County residents 12 and older have initiated vaccinations, with 71 percent vaccinated, while 68.1 percent of the total population has started vaccinations, and 65.3 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

Clallam County has vaccinated 63.8 percent of residents 12 and older with at least one dose, with 59.6 percent fully vaccinated, while 56.7 percent of the total population has begun vaccinations and 53 percent is fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

Clallam County added 21 COVID-19 cases over the weekend that have been tied to community gatherings and the start of a new outbreak at a church.

The church outbreak has included four cases so far and more are expected, Berry said.

Health officials have declined to confirm the location of outbreaks unless they are not able to effectively trace contacts of possible exposures.

Jefferson County reported no new cases from the weekend.

Clallam County currently has three residents hospitalized, with one in the Intensive Care Unit, Berry said.

Clallam County has confirmed 91 COVID-19 cases so far this month, about 5.85 percent of the 1,556 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data. Seventeen residents have died of the disease.

Jefferson County has confirmed 21 COVID-19 cases so far this month, about 4.46 percent of the 471 cases reported since the start of the pandemic, according to county public health data. Four residents have died of COVID.

Fifty-eight cases were active in Clallam County on Monday. Jefferson County had five active cases.

Clallam County returned to the state’s high-risk category with a case rate of 88 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Monday.

Jefferson County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 50.16 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.