A second person from Jefferson County has died from COVID-19 while Clallam County reported 29 new cases on Friday and Saturday and mass vaccination clinics for the initial shot were scheduled.
The number of North Olympic Peninsula residents who have died from the virus is six, two in Jefferson County and four in Clallam County.
Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, said the woman who died was 80. He did not know what community she was from.
She died on Dec. 26 after she had been hospitalized in a Seattle hospital since October for non-COVID health issues, he said. She contracted COVID-19 in the hospital, which Locke said he couldn’t identify due to patient privacy.
The state health department informed Jefferson County on Friday that her death was due to the virus, Locke said.
Clallam County reported nine new cases Friday and 20 more Saturday for a total of 817 since the pandemic began in March.
Some recent cases have been tied to holiday travel, according to Dr. Allison Berry Unthank, county health officer, but she said that Saturday’s 20 cases were “almost exclusively” the result of New Year’s Eve parties.
Clallam County as of Saturday had 88 active cases and an infection rate of 113 per 100,000 over the past two weeks, though that number will likely go up Monday.
No Clallam residents were hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of Saturday.
Unthank said that the county hadn’t seen a significant surge in cases stemming from holiday parties, “but we can’t celebrate too much yet.”
Jefferson County had three new cases reported Friday. Locke did not know of any new positives Saturday. That gives Jefferson 253 cases, with 27 active cases in isolation and an infection rate of 87.77 per 100,000 over the past two weeks.
Mass vaccination clinics have been scheduled to begin this week in Carrie Blake Park in Sequim and at Port Angeles High School.
These clinics will be for people designated in the “1B1” vaccination group, Unthank said Friday during her weekly COVID-19 briefing. The 1B1 group is composed of people over the age of 70 and people over the age of 50 in multi-generational households. The B1 group has four sub-groups and the first is 1B1.
The upcoming clinics will provide the first shot in a two-dose regime. More clinics will be scheduled to offer the second dose.
Mass vaccination clinics organized by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe will be at a vaccination tent in Carrie Blake Park at 202 N. Blake Ave., for Sequim residents in the 1B1 group beginning Thursday. Vaccinations will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. The tribe is only offering vaccinations for people 70 and over and not the people 50-over in multigenerational homes at this time because they don’t have a way to verify who is in that group.
It is not necessary to be a Jamestown Family Health Clinic patient.
The drive-through clinic will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and the following Saturday as well as Jan. 19, Jan. 21 and Jan. 23. People will stay in their cars for the shot of Moderna vaccine and wait for 15 minutes in a nearby parking lot for questions and/or health concerns. First responders and medical staff will be on site to assist, if needed.
The vaccination tent will be next to the James Center for the Performing Arts band shell in Carrie Blake Park.
The check-in location will be in the parking lot of Trinity United Methodist Church at 100 South Blake Ave., in Sequim.
Unthank said that it’s probably best if people don’t show up for the first day on Thursday. She expects a large crowd the first day.
“You will have a better experience if you don’t come that first day,” she said.
For Port Angeles and Forks residents, there will be two weekends of mass vaccinations: this coming Saturday and the following day — Jan. 17 — as well as Jan. 23-24. Both clinics will be at Port Angeles High School, 304 E. Park Ave.
People are asked to schedule appointments.
Unthank said people can make appointments on the county website at www.Clallam.net beginning Wednesday.
“In a pandemic, they don’t want large crowds to gather,” she said.
Unthank said it’s expected that 500 vaccines a day will be provided at the Port Angeles clinics, while the hope in Sequim is to vaccinate as many as 4,000 people, with a planned roll-out of 1,000 vaccines a week.
Unthank said there are no plans at this time for a mass vaccination clinic located in the Forks area and that people on the West End of the county are invited to schedule a vaccination at one of the Port Angeles clinics.
Locke expects the 1B vaccinations to start some time this week. He said Jefferson Healthcare hospital has invested in an extensive four-lane drive-through mass vaccination facility.
“It’s a somewhat permanent facility,” he said. “Jefferson Healthcare is expecting to be using this for the next six months.”
Locke hopes for an update Monday on when the county will receive its next allotment of vaccine for people in the 1B group. After receiving that information, he expects a day to be selected to begin the drive-through vaccinations.
Locke said Jefferson County has a vaccination plan slightly different from Clallam. Because the county has such a large elderly population, people 85 and older are first in line for the vaccine, with people between 70-85 next in line.
Clallam County isn’t making that distinction.
Locke also is optimistic that more vaccines will be made available to the states after Jan. 20.
“I can see a surge in vaccinations faster than anticipated,” he said.
Unthank said the vaccinations are going as quickly as possible.
“This is about as fast as we can go with the amount of vaccine that we have,” she said. “I’m actually quite proud of what has happened so far.”
She said her goal is to have a herd immunity in Clallam County by the summer, “which we’ll get by vaccinating 50,000 people in the county,” she said.