COVID-19 vaccinations by spring for most people

The North Olympic Peninsula had six more COVID-19 positives Sunday, with three in Clallam County and three in Jefferson County.

Clallam got a welcome slow day for new cases after 27 were reported in the county late Saturday.

Sunday’s cases moved Clallam County to 579 positives since March, and it has 201 active cases.

The infection rate in Clallam County is listed at 214 per 100,000 over the past two weeks, well into the high-risk category. Unthank said that while this is serious, the county at least appears to be leveling off at the low 200s, while other areas of Washington are continuing to see the infection rates grow as high as 400 to 500 per 100,000.

Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said one of Sunday’s cases is tied to Thanksgiving — a person who traveled out of the county.

Jefferson County has had 181 total positives since March and has 21 active cases. The county’s infection rate is listed at 137 per 100,000 during the past two weeks, though that figure is also expected to be recalculated today.

Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank said in her weekly COVID-19 update Friday that the county also was “starting to see Thanksgiving cases.” She said the Clallam positives so far were caused by out-of-town visitors coming into contact with local families.

Locke said any kind of Thanksgiving surge will be a problem because cases were already surging statewide, but the past week had started to level off following surge during the first half of November.

The state’s high point came on Nov. 23, when 5,561 cases were reported.

Mondays are usually the highest days for new cases because some counties turn in all their weekend numbers on Mondays.

Another high point was Nov. 30, when 4,445 cases were reported statewide. Since then, there were 2,480 cases Tuesday, 2,815 Wednesday, 2,090 Thursday and 2,484 Friday.

Vaccine coming

Even though the first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive on the North Olympic Peninsula before the end of the year, it will likely be spring before most members of the public can be vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus, according to local health officers.

Unthank said at her weekly COVID-19 presentation Friday that “there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” for area residents, but she urged that they continue maintaining safety measures such as wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings and socially distancing.

“It will not be long before we have a vaccine available,” Unthank said.

Twenty-seven new cases were added late Saturday afternoon on Clallam County COVID-19 website.

Two cases were taken off the local books on Friday because Clallam County was not their place of residence.

Two Clallam County residents died from COVID-19 last week, giving the county four total deaths from the disease since August.

Front-line help

Unthank talked at length about the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine. The first people to get that vaccine will be frontline first responders and health care providers. Next in line will be patients and workers in long-term nursing care facilities.

Unthank said there will be a limited amount of vaccine to begin with, but it will be enough to take care of health care workers.

“We’re in a good position to vaccinate the majority of our health care workers by the end of the year,” Unthank said. “I’m very excited about vaccinating our health care workers.”

She said new shipments of vaccine will be expected every two weeks with different tiers of people becoming eligible to receive vaccines. She said the general public won’t be vaccinated until spring most likely.

Unthank also said there is roughly a six-week period before the vaccine takes full effect. People will receive two series of vaccinations about three to four weeks apart, and then the vaccine will be fully effective in another two weeks. So a person getting the first shot in early January would be fully protected by mid-February.

“The goal is to get 75 percent of the population vaccinated by summer,” she said.

Locke agreed that it will be spring before everyone can get vaccinated.

“There’s a lot of priority groups to go through,” he said.

PUD offices closed

Because of a possible exposure to COVID-19, Clallam Public Utility District offices in Sekiu and Forks will be closed to drive-through customers until at least Monday, according to the PUD.

Nicole Clark, communications manager with the Clallam PUD, said this information came to light late Friday. She didn’t have a lot of details on what the exposure was and was hoping to get more information Monday. She didn’t know yet if PUD employees had tested positive or had simply come in contact with others who have tested positive.

She said these offices are generally closed anyway on the weekends, but they will remain closed to drive-through payments Monday morning until the PUD has more information.

Customers can check the PUD’s website at or call 360-452-9771 or 1-800-542-7859 if they have questions about their accounts or payments. Payments can also be made 24/7 by calling 844-239-0074 or using the PUD’s SmartHub app. A new 24/7 payment kiosk has also been installed at the PUD’s Sekiu office.

Jamestown drive-through

The Jamestown Family Health Clinic, in coordination with Olympic Medical Center and the Clallam County Department of Health, is offering drive-through COVID testing at its Sequim clinic. Testing is available to all people regardless if they receive care at the Jamestown Clinic from 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Criteria for testing includes anyone with mild symptoms, anyone with exposure to someone with known or suspected COVID-19. People requiring testing prior to a medical procedure are also welcome. Testing is not currently available for pre-travel or other reasons not listed.

People will need to provide identification. Anonymous testing is not available. The test site is located in the southeast parking lot area of 808 N. Fifth Ave., Sequim. No appointment is needed. Test results take 48 to 72 hours. Rapid testing is not available at this location.