Clallam County sees COVID-19 rates drop into moderate-risk category

Clallam County has dropped into the state’s moderate-risk category for COVID-19 for the first time since April with a case rate below 200 per 100,000 population in a two-week period.

Meanwhile, Jefferson County remained in the high-risk category and saw a slight uptick with a case rate of 364 per 100,000.

Clallam’s case rate Monday was 183 per 100,000, a reflection of cases reported during a two-week period. They are computed using a formula based on 100,000 population even for counties that do not have 100,000 people living in them.

In moderate risk, masking is still recommended in indoor settings, especially when not vaccinated or the vaccination status of those around you is unknown.

Dr. Allison Berry, the health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties, said Jefferson County reported 86 new cases since last week, bringing its total since the pandemic began to 5,785.

“I don’t know if I would call it a spike, more of a slight increase in cases,” Berry said. “It’s far too early to call it a trend.”

“We are seeing cases come from several large events that happened last week and over the weekend that brought a lot of people into town, lots of visitors, and we have also seen some transmission related to returning to school,” Berry said.

Clallam County reported 60 new cases since last week, bringing its total since the pandemic began to 15,509.

Nationwide, cases are on the decline, but death rate from the virus is 360 per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most are people who have not been vaccinated or people for whom the vaccine is ineffective due to underlying health conditions, Berry said.

“Generally it’s people who are unvaccinated or those who are very ill and unable to fully respond to their vaccine, so people who are immuno-suppressed, people who are undergoing cancer treatment therapy and things like that,” Berry said.

President Joe Biden declared the COVID-19 pandemic over on Sunday during a 60 Minutes interview.

“The pandemic is over,” he said. “We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.”

Berry is among several health officials who disagreed with the statement.

“I think that was a moment where he could have chosen his words a bit more carefully,” Berry said. “I think what is really happening is we are transitioning to a more endemic phase of the pandemic. We are moving out of this critical urgency stage where hospitals were full and critical services were shutting down. We are not in that phase anymore. But we are certainly still seeing a lot of transmissions and, unfortunately, a lot of people dying.”

Washington’s state of emergency orders that went into effect at the beginning of the pandemic will be lifted on Oct. 31, Gov. Jay Inslee said, lifting many of the remaining masking mandates, except in healthcare settings.

But Berry encourages people to be kind to those who continue to wear masks in public spaces.