Drop in COVID-19 cases has Clallam, Jefferson in low-risk category

No new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on the North Olympic Peninsula for a third consecutive day

No new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on the North Olympic Peninsula for a third consecutive day, although health officials continue to be concerned about wildfire smoke.

Both Clallam and Jefferson counties continue to be in the state’s low-risk category with 17 new cases per 100,000 people in Clallam County for the past two weeks and 3.13 cases per 100,000 in Jefferson County for the same time period.

Clallam County has had 226 confirmed COVID-19 cases since March, with one active case and one death, according to Clallam County Public Health data.

Jefferson County has had 71 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March, with 10 active cases and no deaths, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.

According to data compiled from state Sources by the Seattle Times, Jefferson County has third third-lowest COVID rate by population in Washington state; Clallam, the fifth-lowest.

Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank said Monday she is working with school districts as they prepare to possibly re-open to some in-person instruction if the current trend of a low case rate continues.

“We’re all very hopeful that we can start bringing some kids back into the classroom,” Unthank said. “(The) plan is for Oct. 5 at this point, if everything holds steady. Then each district has its own plan on exactly how they plan to do that, so which grades would start first depends on the district.

“But the hope is for each district, once we have some kids in class — if that’s going well — every two weeks or so we could potentially add additional grades into the schools as we go.”

The wildfire smoke blanketing the Peninsula — and the state — continues to be a concern for health officials as they have said it can make people more susceptible to COVID-19.

Smoke poses other respiratory concerns as well, Unthank said.

“What I’ve been noticing is people don’t seem as concerned about the smoke as they probably should be,” she said. “I think people are just fatigued about being concerned about a variety of things.

“Right now, we really want everyone inside, whether you’re in a high-risk group or not. The air outside is currently in the ‘very unhealthy’ category, so we really want everyone to bring their activities inside as much as possible.”

Health officials are also preparing for a possible spike in cases caused by the Labor Day holiday this week, but Unthank hopes there won’t be one.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that we haven’t seen that spike yet, but it is a little too early to tell,” she said.

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