Clallam under COVID-19 benchmark for 4 weeks

Jefferson Co. hit the two-week mark of no new COVID-19 cases, dropping its infection rate to zero.

Clallam County hit a COVID-19 benchmark Monday, being at fewer than 75 new cases per 100,000 population for four weeks, a milestone health officials sought before some in-person school could start in the county.

Meanwhile, Jefferson County has hit the two-week mark of no new COVID-19 cases, which has dropped its infection rate to zero.

Jefferson’s school districts are in either their fourth or fifth week of instruction, and all four are offering some form of in-person/online hybrid class.

Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke continues to work with the districts to refine protocols as they learn what works, he said during his Monday briefing with the county commissioners.

Part of the challenge has been the districts are some of the first in the state to start in-person learning, Locke said.

“This is a very learn-as-you-go process,” he said. “It’s a very active process, and we expect things we’re doing to change.”

Many Clallam County school districts are expected to begin some form of in-person instruction next week, and county Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank said she has been working with the districts on COVID-19 protocols.

“We do really want this to be successful,” she said. “We want to make sure that people don’t get sick by going to school, neither the teachers or students, and be sustainable, so we can add additional grades.

“I know many people are antsy to have all kids back in the classroom and to have a lot more normal activities such as athletics and extra-curricular activities, but we have to go slow in order to make sure this is safe and sustainable.”

Clallam County’s case rate was at 21 per 100,000 for the past two weeks after one new case was discovered Monday. That case was being investigated as to how it was contracted, Unthank said.

Unlike the North Olympic Peninsula, case rates started to rise statewide last week. Unthank said it’s not yet clear as to what is causing the increase.

The cold and flu season is quickly approaching, and both Unthank and Locke have been urging people to get a flu vaccination to help prevent a harsh flu season on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With symptoms of COVID-19 being very similar to a cold or the flu, Unthank said people need to get tested as soon as possible if they have any symptoms.

“There is no difference without a test to tell the difference between COVID-19 and a cold,” Unthank said. “So, if you have new cold symptoms, do please go get tested, so we can figure whether or not it’s COVID-19.”

As of Monday, Clallam County has confirmed 243 cases of COVID-19 since March, with 10 active cases and one death, according to Clallam County Public Health data. Jefferson County has confirmed 71 cases of COVID-19 since March, with no active cases or deaths, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.