Clallam County returns to state’s high-risk category

Clallam County has returned to the state’s high-risk category due to its high case rate, but the county health officer expects that to dip soon as the two COVID-19 outbreaks in the county are brought under control.

Clallam County added three new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, with one connected to the unidentified church outbreak. That means that both the county’s outbreaks — one in a church and another in a long-term care facility — are now at 17 cases each. The other two new infections are contacts of prior cases, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

Jefferson County held steady with no new cases on Thursday, and the spike in cases seen in the South County area seems to be dropping, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

Clallam County is in the state’s high-risk category, with a cases rate of 80 per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior as of Thursday. Jefferson County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 56.4 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.

The church outbreak cases are primarily among unvaccinated residents, with one breakthrough case in an elderly woman with a compromised immune system. Church leaders are working with the health department to address vaccine hesitancy, Berry said.

Two people are now hospitalized from the church outbreak, with Clallam having three total COVID-19 hospitalizations; one patient is in the Intensive Care Unit, she said.

While both county public health offices continue to work to vaccinate as many residents as possible, Berry also is focusing on getting out the message that vaccines are safe for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

“There is no evidence of danger in pregnancy and in fact, now there is extensive evidence in safety in pregnancy,” Berry said.

“We also have a lot of evidence that COVID-19 is very risky for both mom and her baby, with increases risk for miscarriage and increases in risk of death of the mom.

“If you are trying get pregnant or you are pregnant, that’s actually a very strong indication to get vaccinated and not the other way around.”

Locke is preparing for June 30, when Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to lift most if not all COVID-19 restrictions across the state.

The Jefferson County health officer is urging unvaccinated residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as they will be at high risk of infections when people stop wearing masks and social distancing and gather more.

The continued spread of more contagious and more harmful COVID-19 variants is also a cause for concern for the unvaccinated, Locke said.

“I think it’s going to be an on going problem,” he said. “People want to, understandably, get back to normal life, gathering with friends, taking off masks in indoor spaces, but the reality is it’s just not safe to do if you’re unvaccinated because there is still a lot of virus circulating in the community and the state.

“The only good solution to all of this is to get vaccination rates higher.”

Vaccination clinics

The state has a vaccination locator at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov, which allows users to see where appointments are available and which vaccine will be used.

Residents can walk into the Jefferson Healthcare Express Clinic every day from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. to receive a Johnson & Johnson vaccine shot, or they can schedule with a primary care provider to receive Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson.

Vaccinations at local pharmacies in Jefferson County can be found at co.jefferson.wa.us/1429/COVID-19.

Clallam County is offering today the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine and the two-shot Moderna at the Sequim Food Bank, 144 W. Alder St., from 9 a.m.-noon.

The full calendar for clinics in Clallam County can be viewed at tinyurl.com/PDN-ClallamPopUps.

Some of the larger grocery stores such as Walmart, Safeway and QFC receive regular shipments of COVID-19 vaccines.

Appointments can be made on their websites when available: Walmart, walmart.com/covidvaccine; Safeway, safeway.com/vaccinations/home; QFC, qfc.com/rx/covid-eligibility.

Sixty-seven cases have been confirmed in June so far in Clallam County, about 4.72 percent of 1,418 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data.

Jefferson County has confirmed 23 cases this month, about 5.23 percent of the 440 total cases since the pandemic began, according to county data.

Forty-six COVID-19 cases were active in Clallam County on Thursday, while Jefferson County had eight active cases.

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