COVID picture differs in counties: Clallam outbreak grows, Jefferson dips

Clallam County is continuing to suffer through multiple COVID-19 outbreaks, although the picture is improving in Jefferson County, a health official said Monday.

Sixty new cases were confirmed over the weekend in Clallam County, 20 of which were part of the ongoing outbreak at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center, said Dr. Allison Berry, the North Olympic Peninsula health officer.

Clallam County’s total number of reported infections reached 4,538 as of Monday, with a case rate of 553 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks, according to public health data.

Eight people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Clallam County, said Berry, who added there were no COVID-related hospitalizations at Jefferson Healthcare in Port Townsend as of Monday.

Jefferson County’s total number of reported COVID-19 cases reached 1,053, with 12 people diagnosed over the weekend, according to public health data. Berry said the case rate, at 226 per 100,000, is among the state’s lowest, second only to San Juan County.

COVID-19 outbreaks have affected a total of 13 long-term care facilities in Clallam County plus two in Jefferson County, Berry said. Since late August, 132 Peninsula-area long-term care residents and 53 staff members have been diagnosed with the disease.

“There have been 20 fatalities of residents in long-term care,” Berry said.

Berry said the “very bad” outbreak at Sequim Health & Rehabilitation has ended. The center has completed two rounds of tests during the past two weeks without any additional positives, she said.

“The vaccination mandate for workers is likely to help prevent future transmission,” Berry added.

Three students at a Clallam County school have contracted COVID-19 — probably in school, Berry said Monday. Adding the classes are quite small, she declined to name the school. The affected children and staff have been notified, she said.

For the population at large, mass-vaccination clinics for Pfizer booster shots will be occurring in both counties. While appointments can be made online, there are phone numbers to call for help too: 360-417-2430 in Clallam County and 360-344-9791 in Jefferson County.

Those who received Pfizer shots earlier this year or in late 2020 — and are older than 65 or work in a high-risk setting such as a school, grocery store or health care facility, or have an underlying medical condition — are eligible for a booster.

Clallam County’s booster clinic at Port Angeles High School, 304 E. Park Ave., has room from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. this Saturday, Berry said. Appointments can be made here.

In Jefferson County, this Sunday’s booster clinic at Blue Heron Middle School, 3939 San Juan Ave. in Port Townsend, has a waiting list of 150. Willie Bence, Department of Emergency Management director, said a decision will be made by today on whether to expand the clinic to accommodate the people on that list.

Pharmacies and some primary care clinics also offer the Pfizer booster in both counties. And on Oct. 23, another clinic is planned at Quilcene School, 294715 U.S. Highway 101, Quilcene, with appointments made here. That clinic will be open from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

People should bring hard copies of their vaccination cards to booster appointments. If one needs a duplicate, it can be obtained online at wa.myir.net.

The Pfizer booster alerts the immune system with the same strength as the earlier shot, Berry said, so it may bring on flu-like symptoms within 12 to 24 hours. That’s your immune response working, she said.

Public health workers may well turn their energies to the next mass-vaccination effort: immunizing children ages 5 through 11. That vaccine may be approved in early November, Berry said.

She added that outdoor Halloween trick-or-treating, especially if face masks are integrated into kids’ costumes, is a largely safe activity regardless of vaccination status.

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