Clallam and Jefferson Transit buses at the Sequim Transit Center last week feature messages about sanitary practices. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

Clallam and Jefferson Transit buses at the Sequim Transit Center last week feature messages about sanitary practices. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

Jefferson sees five weekend cases

Results come back in just two days

Jefferson County has seen a spike in new coronavirus cases, with four new ones being investigated Sunday and two Saturday, to bring the total number in the county up to 25.

“As we feared, this has been a busy weekend,” said Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke.

The new COVID-19 cases increases the number in the county by 30 percent in one weekend.

“These investigations are getting more and more complicated,” Locke said. “The biggest concern is who are they spreading it to before symptoms show up.”

Clallam County did not see any new cases Sunday and remains at eight for a total of 33 cases on the North Olympic Peninsula. Locke said the spike was somewhat anticipated as local jurisdictions enter a critical couple of weeks to flatten the curve of new cases.

The latest cases are people who likely were exposed to the virus before Gov. Jay Inslee’s first stay-at-home order on March 23, he said.

The latest test results are from samples taken Friday. The county got them back from the University of Washington lab in just two days, faster than previous samples.

Locke said two of the county’s 25 patients needed to be hospitalized in the Seattle, while the other 23 have been able to ride out the virus at home.

None have been hospitalized locally.

Locke said about 20 percent of the cases nationally appear to require some level of hospitalization.

Protective masks

Two changes occurred with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations this weekend.

The CDC stated that up to 25 percent of COVID-19 cases appear to be “asymptomatic,” meaning people infected with the virus are showing no symptoms. Partly because of the new data, the other recommendation is that people wear cloth masks when they go out in public, a change from previous guidelines.

However, no one is really providing the masks to the public at the moment. The CDC provides instructions on how to make them at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-Masks.

Locke said volunteers are making masks, but the supplies are going to hospitals and health care providers to give to patients so more high-tech surgical masks can be saved for professional health care workers.

He expects some local businesses will ramp up to make masks for the public, but for the moment, people need to make masks themselves or find a family member or friend to make masks for them.

Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry Unthank said that also is the case in Clallam County because masks being made by volunteers are going to hospitals.

“This was done (by the CDC) pretty suddenly,” Locke said. “Right now, they’re not commercially available.”

“Pretty much everyone has a bandana,” Unthank said.

Unthank said what’s key is people not to try and get medical masks because health professionals need them. She advised people to wear cloth masks when they go out.

Locke and Unthank also have urged that wearing a mask doesn’t replace the need to maintain social distancing and rigorous hand-washing practices.

The Board of Jefferson County Commissioners will get an update on the county’s COVID-19 response beginning at 9 a.m. today. The public can view the meeting by going to https://tinyurl.com/PDN-Jefferson.

Unthank will also give an update for Clallam County, which can also be viewed online at 10 a.m. today at www.clallam.net/features/meetings.html.

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