COVID outbreaks at long-term care facilities appear to slow

Outbreaks at long-term care facilities appear to be slowing down, with less large-scale transmission being reported, and COVID-19 transmission continues to slow in both Clallam and Jefferson counties, health officials said.

The largest long-term care facility outbreak on the North Olympic Peninsula is almost officially over, pending one final round of testing. Sequim Bay Health & Rehabilitation has had 65 confirmed cases of COVID-19, but if all tests return negative, there will have been no new cases in the past two weeks and will be considered finished, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties.

No deaths were confirmed in either county on Tuesday, with Clallam County holding at 48 due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began and Jefferson County remaining at 13, Berry said.

Some of the long-term care facility outbreaks have continued to have deaths related to them — such as one previously reported in Clallam County on Monday. Deaths tend to lag behind new cases by two to three weeks, Berry said.

“Unfortunately, we are still seeing deaths related to the original peak,” Berry said. “That’s not unanticipated, but it is still very sad.”

Berry and the public health departments are working with the long-term care facilities on the Peninsula to schedule booster doses for the residents who received Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, Berry said.

On Tuesday, Clallam County added 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19, raising its total to 4,176 cases since the pandemic began, according to public health data.

Jefferson County added 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — five of which are among one family — raising its total to 988 cases since the pandemic began, Berry said.

Clallam County’s case rate continues to decrease, with the county reporting 795 cases per 100,000 population for the last two weeks as of Tuesday. It recorded a case rate of 849 cases per 100,000 on Monday, public health data said.

Jefferson County’s case rate is calculated weekly. It dropped to 275.86 cases per 100,000 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.

Three Clallam County residents were hospitalized for COVID-19 on the Peninsula on Tuesday, while three Jefferson County residents were hospitalized off the Peninsula, Berry said.

With case numbers decreasing, Berry said she’s working with her teams to start to scale back up contact tracing by both counties’ public health departments, as it’s more manageable to effectively trace contacts with smaller case rates and fewer new cases being confirmed, she said.

Non-compliance

Berry and the public health departments for each county have been working with restaurants and bars who are not complying with the order requiring those businesses to limit their indoor seating to vaccinated customers only.

The public health department sends formal letters to non-compliant restaurant or bar, informing them they need to follow the mandate. From that point, they have 72 hours to comply or the department can and will retract their liquor and service licenses, Berry said.

In Jefferson County, all restaurants and bars that were not enforcing the mandate at first have now started to and are complying with the order, Berry said.

Three of the businesses sent official warning letters by the public health department in Clallam County have also started enforcing the mandate, she said. However, one restaurant in the county is not, and if they don’t comply by the end of the week, the 72-hour notice will expire and officials will revoke their liquor and food permits and the business will have to stop operations, Berry said.

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