COVID-19 case rates are trending downward

COVID-19 case rates continue to tick up although case rates are beginning to trend downward, the North Olympic Peninsula health officer said.

“Our total number of cases will always go up because we are going to keep getting new cases, but our case rate, how much we get over a period of time, is down trending at this time, so each day we are getting a smaller number than before,” Dr. Allison Berry said.

“That is a hopeful sign that we are moving in the right direction in terms of COVID-19.”

Clallam County reported a total of 14,866 cases since the pandemic began, up 204 cases from last Monday, with a case rate of 509 per 100,000 population in the past two weeks, down from 604 cases per 100,000.

Jefferson County reported a total of 5,365 cases, up 94 cases from last Monday, with a case rate of 547 per 100,000, down from 690 per 100,000.

Case rates are a reflection of cases reported during a two-week period. They are computed using a formula based on a 100,000 population even for counties that do not have 100,000 people living in them.

“In Clallam and Jefferson County, we are not seeing spikes in severe disease due to high vaccination rates, but in other parts of the state, we are primarily because people are getting COVID who are not vaccinated are getting exposed now, and unfortunately hospitalizations and deaths are related to that,” Berry said.

More than 80 percent of Clallam County residents and 88 percent of Jefferson County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including the recommended boosters for those 50 and older, Berry said.

The core concern group right now is kids, especially as a new school year approaches and other viruses, such as measles, polio and monkey pox, are beginning to crop up across the country, she said.

Polio has mostly been eradicated from the United States, although a Rockland County man in New York was diagnosed with the disease last July, and according to The New York Times, a second case has been diagnosed, prompting New York State health officials to issue vaccine recommendations.

“We haven’t had any cases of either of those (polio or monkey pox) diagnosed on the Peninsula, but I think it is worth paying attention to what is happening in other parts of the country,” Berry said. “These diseases tend to show up in communities with very low vaccination rates, and I think in the United States we have often been a victim of our own success in that we have eradicated viruses, and that has led individuals to not vaccinate their kids or get vaccinated themselves because they believe they are not at risk. But we are only not at risk because we did such a good job in the first place of getting everyone vaccinated.

Schools will be taking a different approach to COVID-19 this year by focusing on testing and isolating positive cases quickly rather than performing contact tracing, Berry said.

“Looking at the fall, when it comes to COVID-19, we are going to be focusing primarily on making sure testing is widely accessible and making sure that those that are positive get isolated quickly,” she said.

“The kinds of isolation, quarantine and contact training we were doing before don’t have as many beneficial effects as before just because there is so much COVID-19 in the community right now,” Berry said.

Masking will still be highly recommended, especially for those with underlying health issues or who are in the high-risk category.