New outbreak investigated at Clallam long-term care facility

Clallam County Public Health is investigating a new long-term care facility COVID-19 outbreak that has so far had a staff member and resident infected with the novel coronavirus.

The staff member is unvaccinated, and the resident is fully vaccinated, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer. The first case at the facility was confirmed Friday, and the second case confirmed over the weekend, she said.

Both Berry and Dr. Tom Locke have said throughout the pandemic they will not name a facility experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak if they are able to trace all potential exposures.

Berry said the facility is cooperating with the public health department.

“The facility is doing everything we recommend,” she said. “They seemed to have got on this case really quickly.

“So, we’re hopeful this will be a limited outbreak, but we’re in the early days at this point.”

The next step for health officials will be to test all residents and staff at the facility, and that will be completed over the next few days, Berry said.

While the resident was vaccinated, those who are elderly and others who have a suppressed immune system may not be fully protected by their vaccination alone and may need to rely on the protection of those around them being vaccinated as well, Berry said.

“I think it highlights the challenge and risk posed by unvaccinated staff at a long-term care facility,” she said. “Right now, we don’t have a mandate in place for staff at long-term care to be vaccinated, and I think that’s going to be a direction we’re going to need to move in the future.

“Long-term care residents are at high risk of getting COVID-19 even if they’re vaccinated because, to need to be in long-term care generally means you may have significant health conditions — possibly quite elderly — and folks in that group don’t respond as well to the vaccine.”

Clallam County added 14 COVID-19 cases over the weekend. Jefferson County added three.

Clallam County has two residents hospitalized, with two in the Intensive Care Unit, Berry said.

Jefferson County has two people hospitalized, Locke said during his Monday briefing with county commissioners.

Clallam County has confirmed 42 COVID-19 cases so far this month, about 2.79 percent of the 1,507 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data. Fifteen residents have died of the disease.

Jefferson County has confirmed 15 COVID-19 cases so far this month, about 3.23 percent of the 465 cases reported since the start of the pandemic, according to county public health data. Four residents have died of COVID.

Forty-seven cases were active in Clallam County on Monday. Jefferson County had 12 active cases.

Both counties are in the state’s moderate-risk category with case rates of 63 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Monday in Clallam County, and Jefferson County at about 47 cases per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.