COVID, flu claim 3 lives in Clallam County

Two Clallam County residents have died of COVID-19 and one has died of influenza, the Clallam and Jefferson county health officer said.

Since November, the North Olympic Peninsula — along with the rest of the nation — has faced a “tripledemic” of respiratory illnesses: COVID-19, influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), said Dr. Allison Berry, the region’s health officer.

The two Clallam residents who died from COVID-19 were a woman in her 80s and a man in his 70s. Both were unvaccinated and had underlying health conditions, Berry said. Their deaths, both in the past two weeks, brought the total number of deaths from COVID-19 in Clallam County to 159.

The Clallam resident who died from the flu was a woman in her 90s who was unvaccinated and had underlying health conditions, Berry said. Her death, also in the past two weeks, brought the total number of deaths from the flu in the county to 11.

Berry also confirmed a COVID-19 and flu outbreak at a Clallam County long-term care facility.

No new deaths were reported in the past two weeks in Jefferson County from either virus.

Despite the deaths, respiratory illnesses are trending down across Peninsula, Berry said.

“By and large, things are looking good,” she said Monday. “Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are down at the state and national levels, flu activity is significantly down, and RSV is down as well. So all really moving well in the right direction right now.”

During the Jefferson County Commissioners meeting Monday, Berry discussed the transitional phase the Peninsula is in as it moves from winter to spring, and she emphasized masking indoors for the remainder of the winter.

“As we move into this next phase, as the numbers get better, the most important thing is to make sure that you are up to date on your vaccines,” Berry said. “Make sure you got your Bivalent, which is working really well at preventing symptomatic disease.”

Berry said one-third of Clallam County residents and half of Jefferson County residents have received a Bivalent booster.

“As far as masking, as we move out of this pandemic phase and further into an endemic (phase), we are talking about when it makes sense to mask and when it’s reasonable to not wear one,” Berry said. “A good time to mask up is when you are feeling ill and are in any kind of crowded public space or if you are high risk or have high-risk folks at home. Other than that, I think it is reasonable if you are feeling well to unmask in uncrowded spaces. I think we are moving into that phase at this point.”

Current COVID-19 case data for Clallam County has a rate of 80 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks, with a total of 15,629 people diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020.

In Jefferson County, the case rate is 137 per 100,000, with 6,765 cases diagnosed since the pandemic began.