Health officer to address ‘third wave’ of COVID-19

There were no new COVID-19 cases reported Sunday on the North Olympic Peninsula, but Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said he will discuss preparations today for a “third wave” of increased infections hitting both nationally and statewide.

Clallam County had two COVID-19 positives reported on Saturday and no update was available Sunday before press time. The county has had 286 positives since March and had 14 active cases for a case rate of 30 per 100,000 population during the past two weeks. Two active patients remained hospitalized as of Sunday.

Jefferson County has had 88 positives since March. The county, which had zero positives during the weekend, has 14 active cases for a case rate of 21.94 per 100,000 during the past two weeks.

Locke will provide his weekly update today for the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners. He also will take questions from KPTZ FM listeners. That presentation can be viewed online at 9:45 a.m. at www.tinyurl.com/jeffcomeetings.

Locke said he plans to talk about preparations for the upcoming “third wave” of new infections with the United States having 100,000 new COVID-19 positives Friday and Washington state added more than 1,000 cases.

Some areas of the state have an exceptionally high infection rate at the moment, such as Spokane, which is at 217 cases per 100,000 during the past two weeks, seven times higher than Clallam County.

“The public needs to know that so much depends of personal choices that people make,” Locke said.

He added there won’t be “behavioral police” citing people for masking and social distancing.

Locke said there are no new proposals from Gov. Jay Inslee or the state health department to return to stricter lock-downs such as March and April. In fact, Inslee has been loosening some of those restrictions, such as allowing some counties with high infection rates to move to Phase 2 and allowing movie theaters to open with reduced capacity.

“The governor is acutely aware of the economic impact,” Locke said. “We don’t think closing businesses would be successful.”

Locke said it is possible schools may have to close to in-person instruction if the state’s infection rate gets out of control.

While there haven’t been any reported outbreaks from schools on the Peninsula, Locke said there’s been 43 outbreaks tied to schools statewide.

Locke said it is up to everyone for schools to be able to remain open to in-person instruction, which is tied to case rates and the state’s risk categories.

“If people choose to attend large gatherings or weddings, the less able we’ll be able to keep schools open,” he said.

Locke will also discuss the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and the effect of COVID-19 on holiday gatherings and travel.

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