While COVID-19 case rates remained in the moderate category, North Olympic Peninsula health officers still urge caution as variants of the virus spread around the state.
The recent cases this week in Clallam County have primarily related to travel. Most are among people in their 30s and 40s and their children, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.
“That’s a reminder that certainly those of us in that age group are not immune to the virus,” she said. “So, continue to be thoughtful about gatherings if you are under 65.”
Clallam County confirmed three new cases Thursday, while Jefferson County held steady with no new cases, according to county public health data.
Several more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus are circulating worldwide, and the South African and U.K. variants have been found in the state, primarily in King County.
While the known variants are not believed to cause more severe symptoms yet, they are more contagious and require that people do not relax on prevention guidelines such as mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.
“We’re really in a lull right now in terms of disease transmission, but if people do the wrong things — if people let down their guard and open up too much — we’re going to see a fourth wave with the variants,” Locke said. “Right now, we need people to understand how serious this is.
“This has been very hard-won progress that we’ve made up to this point, and we have to do everything in our power to prevent backsliding.”
“We know that the variants are going to continue to spread, and the best protection we have in the community against that is continuing to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, limiting gathering, limiting travel in particular — limiting travel out of county and out of state is going to increase the likelihood of bringing COVID-19 variants into our community,” she said.
The Port Angeles High School vaccination clinics will expand starting the first weekend in March to include residents who are 50 and older and live in multi-generational households, Berry said.
A multi-generational household is defined as a person older than 50 living with grandchildren or people older than them.
Appointments for this weekend’s Saturday and Sunday clinic at Port Angeles High School for phase 1A members and residents 65 and older were still available as of about 4 p.m. Thursday, she added.
Clallam residents who qualify can make appointments at vaccine.clallam.net/register. Those who must schedule by phone can call 360-417-2430.
Appointments for March at Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s Sequim clinic will open at 9 a.m. next Wednesday, Berry said.
Jefferson Healthcare is making appointments for vaccinations through its “When is it my turn?” list, which Jefferson County residents 65 and older or Jefferson Healthcare patients can sign up for at jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine.
Clallam County’s test positivity — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 2.2 percent from Feb. 8 to Feb. 22, according to Clallam County Public Health data.
Jefferson County’s test positivity was 0.51 percent for Feb. 15-21.
So far this month, Clallam County has confirmed 53 cases of COVID-19, about 5.31 percent of the 999 cases confirmed since last March, according to Clallam County data.
Jefferson County has confirmed 29 cases of COVID-19 this month, about 8.71 percent of the 333 it has confirmed since last March, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.
Thirteen COVID-19 cases were active as of Thursday in Clallam County. Jefferson County had five active cases.
Both counties are in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 50 per 100,000 population during the past two weeks as of Thursday in Clallam County and 28.21 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday in Jefferson County.