As the Memorial Day weekend approaches, public health officials urge residents to be cautious if traveling or having visitors, especially if they have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
If people do gather over the holiday, staying outside has the lowest risk of transmission, as long as events stay outdoors, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.
“In order to count as an ‘outdoor gathering,’ you have to stay outdoors the whole time,” Berry said. “You shouldn’t gather indoors for any extended period of time.”
Berry emphasized that unvaccinated people should not travel and that those who have unvaccinated visitors should continue to wear masks and practice social distancing when around them to protect the safety of all.
Tourists aren’t a danger, especially. It’s been uncommon for COVID-19 to be transmitted from a person who is purely a tourist, due to the limited interactions they have with locals, Berry said.
“We don’t get a lot of tourist-to-local transmission,” she said. “What we do get is if you’re having visitors from out of town.
“So, if your family or friends are the tourists and they come over to visit, then if you’re unvaccinated and they’re unvaccinated, then you can get exposed to COVID-19,” she continued.
“COVID-19 is primarily spread among people who know each other. If you have friends or family coming from out of town, now is a really good time to make sure they’re vaccinated.”
As of Saturday, Clallam County had started vaccinations for 60.63 percent of residents who are 16 and older, with 51.37 percent of the entire population receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the state’s dashboard.
Clallam County had fully vaccinated 55.04 percent of residents who are 16 and older, as well as 46.63 percent of the overall population, as of Saturday, according to the state.
As of Saturday, 71.62 percent of Jefferson County residents 16 and older had started vaccination, with 63.7 percent of the overall population having received at least one dose, according to the state.
Jefferson County has fully vaccinated 66.33 percent of residents who are 16 and older, and 59 percent of the overall population is fully vaccinated, according to the state.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced that restrictions on business capacity — allowing businesses to operate at 100 percent capacity — may be lifted earlier than the June 30 date he had set, if 70 percent or more of the overall state population 16 and older have begun vaccination, a metric that Jefferson County has already met locally.
Berry doesn’t believe Clallam will reach that 70 percent line before the end of June.
“I think we will get there, I just think it’s unlikely that we’ll get there by the end of June,” she said. “It’s more likely following our current trajectory, we’ll likely be around 65 percent by the end of June.
“I am always ready to be happily surprised by that and we’re going to continue to work as hard as we can to get messaging out and improve access.”
Jefferson County is conducting a pop-clinic at Brinnon School District’s gym on Saturday, using Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, as well as providing second doses of Moderna’s vaccine, the county announced via press release Monday.
The clinic will run from 9 a.m.-noon, and while appointments are preferred, walk-ins for both vaccines will be accepted and appointments can be made at tinyurl.com/PDN-BrinnonVax or by calling 360-344-9791.
Clallam County Public Health is conducting three pop-up clinics this weekend using Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Two are planned in downtown Port Angeles from 1-5 p.m. on Friday and Sunday at the visitors center and one from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Sequim farmers market.
The full calendar for pop-up clinics in Clallam County can be viewed at tinyurl.com/PDN-ClallamPopUps.
The state has a vaccination locator at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov, which allows users to see where appointments are available and which vaccine will be used. While all state residents 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, anyone younger than 18 can receive only Pfizer’s vaccine.
Clallam County confirmed two additional COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. The county has confirmed 104 cases so far this month, about 7.77 percent of the 1,338 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data.
Jefferson County added one new COVID-19 case Tuesday. A total of 26 cases have been confirmed so far this month, about 6.25 percent of the 416 total cases confirmed in the past year, according to county public health data.
Twenty COVID-19 cases were active as of Tuesday in Clallam County, with two patients currently hospitalized and one in the intensive care unit. Jefferson County had four active cases Tuesday.
Both counties are in the state’s moderate-risk category, with Clallam County having a case rate of 59 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Monday, while Jefferson County has a case rate of 28.21 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.