Two Clallam County residents died from COVID-19 over the weekend, raising the total number of deaths in the county to 48 and to 61 for the two-county North Olympic Peninsula.
A woman in her 50s who was unvaccinated died Friday, and a man in his 70s who was fully vaccinated but a long-term care facility resident with underlying conditions also died. The man contracted the novel coronavirus as a result of an outbreak at the facility, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.
There were no deaths due to COVID-19 in Jefferson County over the weekend. Thirteen county residents have died from the disease since the pandemic began.
Both Clallam and Jefferson counties are continuing to see case rates and hospitalizations decrease, Berry said. But the case rates are still too high to begin to reduce restrictions, such as mask wearing and limiting customers in restaurants to only those who have been vaccinated, she said.
Jefferson County’s case rate dropped to 275.86 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Saturday. The case rate recorded last week was 379.31 cases per 100,000, according to county public health data. Clallam County’s case rate dropped to 849 cases per 100,000 for the last two weeks as of Monday. The case rate on Friday was 955 cases per 100,000, according to county public health data.
Clallam County confirmed 95 new cases between Saturday and Sunday, raising its total to 4,154 cases since the pandemic began, public health data said.
Jefferson County added 10 new cases since Friday, raising its total to 977 cases since the pandemic began, public health data said.
Hospitalizations have also slowed, with Jefferson Healthcare not having a COVID-19 patient this weekend for the first time in weeks, although two residents are hospitalized off the Peninsula.
Olympic Medical Center had four patients hospitalized Monday, a significant drop from the peak of 21 COVID-19 patients at one time that the hospital was treating earlier this month, Berry said.
“We are starting to see a decrease of strain on our hospital,” Berry said. “It’s the first week they’ve had that, and it’s a much-needed breather.
“We’re hopeful that if we can keep this trajectory, we can move to more normal hospital operations.”
While strain on hospitals due to COVID-19 has decreased, they are still expected to be busy for the next few weeks as they work to catch up on elective procedures they postponed due to the surge in hospitalized cases seen earlier this month, Berry said.
“We’re very happy to see the turnaround; it’s very needed,” Berry said. “We’re very hopeful about it, that we will be able to relieve the health care system and be able to care for all of our citizens who need access to health care.
“With continued movement in this direction, we’re hopeful that it will relieve some of the strain on our public health capacities, so we can move to more normal contact tracing, more focus on supporting our schools; those kind of critical aspects of our work.”
Since the beginning of February in Clallam County, 16 percent of new reported cases have been among fully vaccinated residents, meaning 84 percent of reported cases have been among unvaccinated residents, according to county data.
During the same time period in Jefferson County, 24.1 percent of new reported cases have been among fully vaccinated residents, meaning 75.9 percent of reported cases have been among unvaccinated residents, according to county data.
Berry said that places with the majority of residents vaccinated — like Jefferson County — are going to see more breakthrough cases than communities with lower vaccination rates due to the fact that there are more people fully vaccinated than unvaccinated. However, those locations have a total case count and case rates that are lower than places which have lower vaccination levels, such as Clallam County, she said.
Berry does not calculate case rates based on vaccinated or unvaccinated populations on the Peninsula because both counties have such small of populations for that data to be statistically relevant.
She pointed out that Kitsap County has a large enough population for it and that officials have started to compile out that data, which shows that, for residents who are unvaccinated, the case rate would be 602 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Sept. 5, according to the county’s dashboard. Vaccinated Kitsap residents would have a case rate of 144 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Sept. 5, the data said.