Football team COVID-19 cluster reported

Ventilation concern in long-term care facility outbreak

Another youth football team on the North Olympic Peninsula is under investigation as experiencing a potential COVID-19 outbreak after a cluster of five cases was confirmed among the team members.

At the same time, a kindergarten class in Jefferson County continues to be under outbreak investigations as a new case has been confirmed among the students, raising the total to five, and an outbreak in a long-term care facility in Clallam County is now up to 36 cases.

The newest football team cluster is a club team not connected to a public school district, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties, on Friday. The team is based in Clallam County but has members from both Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Berry said she could not specify the age of the youth involved, but she described it as a tackle football team, which usually consists of those in middle school or high school.

A cluster of cases is a group of associated COVID-19 infections that are not yet confirmed to be an outbreak. An outbreak is confirmed if two or more cases have been documented with proven transmission.

If it is confirmed to be an outbreak, it will be the second football team on the Peninsula to be under an outbreak investigation in the past two weeks.

A school team in Jefferson County has had four cases confirmed, although a recent round of testing seven days after the initial exposure had no new confirmed cases, and Berry is hopeful that outbreak will be closing soon.

“We are continuing to see football as one of the rare events where you can get outdoor transmission, and it’s really right along the scrimmage line where we see that happen,” Berry said.

In the kindergarten class in Jefferson County, officials are “not seeing widespread transmission there,” Berry said.

Ventilation concerns

In the newest long-term care facility outbreak, ventilation is a concern.

As of Friday, the outbreak consisted of 24 residents and 12 staff infected with the novel coronavirus, Berry said.

Clallam County Public Health and a state infection control team visited the facility this week to analyze the control measures they have been taking, Berry said.

“We’re concerned that the facility’s aging HVAC system is actually likely to blame for the degree of transmission that we’re seeing there,” Berry said.

The HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system was not filtering air properly, and it’s believed to have been circulating contaminated air through the facility, Berry said.

“That really raises the importance of ventilation,” Berry said.

“So, for anyone who is working on infection control — whether it’s school or businesses — really pay attention to those ventilation and HVAC systems to make sure that that’s a point of infection control that’s being addressed.”

Berry does not identify places experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak if officials are able to trace contacts of the exposures.

New cases

On Friday, Clallam County added a total of 29 cases — a number that represented cases confirmed Wednesday and Thursday, which had been unreported then because of technical problems and the Veterans Day holiday.

The county has confirmed a total of 5,079 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Clallam County has a case rate of 284 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Friday, according to county public health data.

Jefferson County added eight new cases on Friday, which included cases not recorded Thursday due to the holiday. The county has confirmed a total of 1,217 cases since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.

In Jefferson County, health officials recorded a case rate of 201.93 cases per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Nov. 10. It is a small increase from when the county had a case rate of 181.82 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Nov. 3.

Information is not available on weekends.