‘Difficult phase’ of pandemic ahead

Nationally, there are signs that the “second wave” of COVID-19 infections is beginning — especially in the Midwestern states — and as fall continues on to winter, conditions for the virus to spread will become more favorable, North Olympic Peninsula health officers said.

“Now is not the time to give up or let up,” said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, on Wednesday.

“We are heading into the most difficult phase of this, but we’ll get through it.”

He and Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer, are urging residents to continue to follow COVID-19 prevention protocols such as mask wearing and social distancing to avoid the rising case numbers seen elsewhere in the state and the nation.

“We think that once we’re over the winter hump and into the spring, and certainly into next summer, it will be a very changed picture,” Locke said.

“But right now, that’s not where we’re at. We’re at the time where we have to make the most serious effort that we’ve ever made to control this in the months ahead.

“This is going to be sort of the decisive series of battles of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re really going to occur between November and February.”

One way to stay safer is keeping social circles small and stay outside when possible, Unthank said.

“You have to keep your social circle small, which doesn’t mean that it has to be zero,” Unthank said. “For most people, you can pick a small circle of friends who are the continuous people that you see.

“We recommend you keep that at five or smaller, and that those are your quarantine buddies or your bubble throughout the pandemic.

“If you do that, you can still have meaningful interactions and continue those social connections; it just needs to be a very small group of people.”

Current cases

One new case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Clallam County on Wednesday, while Jefferson held steady with no new cases.

Clallam County’s infection rate stayed at 22 cases per 100,000 residents for the last two weeks Wednesday.

Jefferson County’s most recent case rate was calculated Monday at 25.08 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior.

According to the state Department of Health on Wednesday, the reproduction number — the number of people infected by one case of COVID-19 — for western Washington is estimated to be 1.12, while eastern Washington is considered to be plateauing at 0.94.

The newest case is currently being investigated, but is preliminary believed to have been a local transmission, Unthank said.

Locke will give a presentation on the COVID-19 pandemic today at 2:30 p.m. at the Board of Health meeting.

The board members are also expected to adopt a proclamation declaring racism a public health emergency.

Watch the meeting at tinyurl.com/PDN-JeffCoBoH.

Clallam County has confirmed 260 cases of COVID-19 since March, with eight active cases and one death, according to Clallam County Public Health data.

Jefferson County has confirmed 80 cases of COVID-19 since March, with nine active cases and no deaths, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.