Holiday traced to new cases of COVID-19

A total of 11 new COVID-19 cases were tallied on the North Olympic Peninsula this weekend as two additional cases were confirmed in Jefferson County on Sunday.

The number of cases on the Peninsula rose to 102, with 43 in Jefferson County and 59 in Clallam County.

Nine out of the 11 most recent cases are from Clallam County with the positive results reported Friday and Saturday.

Clallam County had no new positives on Sunday, said Dr. Allison Unthank, the county health officer.

The cases reported in Clallam County this weekend are believed to have been transmitted during Fourth of July get-togethers, health officers said.

The new positives in Jefferson were the first in about a week and also involved Fourth of July travel, said Dr. Tom Locke, the county health officer.

One case, a woman in her 30s, was exposed in Seattle.

The other case, a woman in her 60s, was exposed out of state and tested positive in Jefferson County, Locke said.

“We’re starting to see those Fourth of July cases show up,” he said.

Locke said that, while the new cases were the first positives in Jefferson County for a while, the county continues to avoid any kind of institutional or workplace outbreaks.

Locke will provide a weekly update today for the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners.

Locke said one new bit of information discussed with health officials in a statewide conference call Friday is the “reproductive” rate of the virus, meaning for every positive case, 1.6 new cases are being created through contact.

“The goal is to keep that number below 1,” Locke said.

Those topics also will be discussed at a county Board of Health meeting at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Locke said the county health department is starting to work with schools to develop a reopening plan.

“We need to do it so that it’s safe and sustainable,” he said.

The worst thing that could happen if schools aren’t reopened safely is that they would be forced to shut down piecemeal due to outbreaks, he added.

Locke also said there continues to be concerns about an increase in cases not just locally but statewide.

While there have been some hotspots in the Puget Sound area, such as fraternities at the University of Washington, the hardest-hit areas in the state have been Tri-Cities and Yakima, which combined have nearly one-third of all the cases in the state.

Washington has been seeing 500-900 new cases a day for the past week or two after it dropped to between 200-300 cases a day in late May and June.

“Statewide, we are definitely worsening slowly,” Locke said. “We never really flattened the curve to the degree that we wanted.”

Locke mandated mask wearing in Jefferson County before the statewide order went into effect to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. He said he’s frustrated with the resistance to it how some have made it a political issue.

“The public needs to take this seriously,” he said.

Clallam County does not have a web-televised Monday update. It is now holding weekly updates on Fridays.

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