COVID outbreak grows to five at long-term care facility; most vaccinated, but immunosuppressed

A Clallam County long-term care facility’s COVID-19 outbreak has been confirmed and has grown to five cases, with two more residents testing positive as of Wednesday.

The facility has had four residents and one staff member test positive for COVID-19, and two residents are now hospitalized due to the virus, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer, who confirmed transmission within the facility which fits the definition of an outbreak.

She declined to identify the facility, as public health officers have done for all outbreaks on the Peninsula.

Most of those who have contracted the virus have been vaccinated, Berry said, but because they are elderly and/or immunosuppressed, the effectiveness of the vaccine is limited.

“This (outbreak) really highlights that our very high-risk individuals — folks who can’t mount a strong response to the vaccine — are also at risk until we reach herd immunity,” Berry said.

“I think there was an early thought that if we just protected, for instance, long-term care facilities, that the rest of us could just live our lives.

“This virus just doesn’t work like that. We really all need to take COVID seriously. We all need to protect ourselves in order to protect the most vulnerable in our community.”

Berry and Clallam County Public Health personnel are working closely with the “relatively large” facility on outbreak protocols, including having staff wear extensive personal protective equipment (PPE), limiting visitors and doing weekly COVID-19 testing of residents and staff, Berry said.

Berry urges all residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Clinics are set as follows:

Jefferson County will have Johnson & Johnson vaccine available from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Saturday’s Port Townsend Farmers Market on Tyler Street. Appointments can be made at prepmod.doh.wa.gov or by calling 360-344-9791. Walk-ins will also be accepted.

Other vaccination locations in Jefferson County can be found at co.jefferson.wa.us/1429/COVID-19.

Clallam County Public Health is conducting two pop-up “shot and a beer” vaccination clinics at the Barhop Brewing and Artisan Pizza, 124 W. Railroad Ave., in Port Angeles.

One is from 5-8 p.m. Saturday for second-dose Moderna shots and also will offer the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The second clinic there is from 1-4 p.m. Monday.

People 21 and older who receive a shot at the Barhop events will be offered a free beer, Berry said.

The full calendar for pop-up clinics in Clallam County can be viewed at tinyurl.com/PDN-ClallamPopUps.

The state has a vaccination locator at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov, which allows users to see where appointments are available and which vaccine will be used.

While all state residents 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, anyone younger than 18 can receive only Pfizer’s vaccine.

Clallam County confirmed two new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday — all part of the long-term care facility — which are the first two cases confirmed in June, about 0.15 percent of 1,353 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data.

Jefferson County had one new case Wednesday, the first one confirmed in June, about 0.24 percent of the 418 total cases have been confirmed since the pandemic began, according to county data.

Clallam County had two patients hospitalized for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Twenty-one COVID-19 cases were active in Clallam County, while Jefferson County had three active cases.

Clallam County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 47 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Wednesday, while Jefferson County is in the state’s low-risk category with a case rate of 12.54 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.

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