No mask, no service starts this week

Clallam County saw two additional COVID-19 positives over the weekend, but they were not related to outbreaks at Serenity House in Port Angeles or Olympic Medical Center.

July 7 also marked the start of the statewide “No Mask, No Service” rule, which bars businesses from selling to customers who are unmasked.

Clallam County officials found only one additional case from Serenity House of Clallam County — with two total cases at the facility — this week among hundreds of tests done following the reported outbreak there.

There were no more positives found at Olympic Medical Center after two employees tested positive a week ago.

However, additional tests will take place at both sites because the incubation period for COVID-19 lasts longer than a week, said Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank at the county’s briefing on July 6.

Unthank said an additional 200 to 300 tests will be done this week as part of the two outbreaks.

“With the incubation period (of COVID-19), it’s still possible to get additional cases,” she said.

Unthank said the two new cases involved one locally transmitted and one from outside the county. They were two women, one in her 20s and the other in her 50s.

No new cases were confirmed on July 6 in Jefferson County as the total remained at 41 cases, with 31 patients recovered.

Clallam County’s number of positives rose to 47, with a combined total of 88 on the North Olympic Peninsula.

In Jefferson County, a total of 3,410 tests have been conducted with 52 results pending, 3,317 negative and a positive rate of 1.2 percent, according to Jefferson County Public Health.

The three most recent cases in Jefferson are connected to the outbreak in the University of Washington fraternity system, which has had more than 120 confirmed cases so far. One of the three Jefferson cases is believed to have contracted the virus while at a party and passed it on to two others, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, during his briefing with county commissioners Monday.

There were still 161 tests in Clallam County pending on July 6, after more than 500 were listed as pending over the weekend.

No additional cases have been confirmed from the Olympic Medical Center outbreak, Unthank said, describing the test results so far “fantastic.”

“It really speaks to the excellent infection control practices at Olympic Medical Center,” Unthank said. “It is incredibly safe to get medical care right now. Two staff members caught it, and not a single patient.”

Clallam County Undersheriff Ron Cameron agreed.

“We’ve been fortunate, we’ve really dodged some bullets,” he said. “Keeping some of the positives we got last week were scary. We may have dodged it again.”

No Mask, No Service

With the start of the statewide rule, Locke clarified that, while some people may have psychological or medical reasons to not wear a face covering, he elaborated that businesses are offering other accommodations such as delivery or curbside pickup.

He also recommends having someone who can wear a mask shop for you.

“People who do not wear masks are not going to be able to do everything they want to,” Locke said.

Locke added there has been a trend online with fake cards claiming people are exempt from wearing a mask due to medical or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reasons, and he called them “bogus” and reiterated how wearing a mask should not be a political statement.

“There’s no constitutional right to infect others,” Locke said.

While Unthank and Cameron said it appears people are getting better about wearing masks in public, the county does not have hard numbers to confirm it.

Unthank also said the county is doing a formal survey to gauge masking use in businesses. She expects the survey to take about a week.

Locke has been monitoring different businesses to see how customers and employees have been being compliant with the face mask mandate, and he said he’s seen a large percentage of people wearing masks.

In particular, he pointed out that, at Safeway in Sequim, he only saw one person not wearing a mask.

Jefferson County applied to enter Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan last week. However, Inslee announced Thursday a hold on all phase applications for two weeks as the state manages an upswing in COVID-19 cases in Eastern Washington and around the I-5 corridor.

Locke said he supports the decision to freeze the applications, so the state doesn’t follow other states, such as Texas and Arizona, which are reversing business openings.

Masks available at library branches

The North Olympic Library System (NOLS) is proud to partner with the Clallam County Emergency Operations Center to provide free cloth masks to the public.

Masks are available at the Sequim, Port Angeles, Forks and Clallam Bay branches during curbside service hours, while supplies last. Curbside service is available at all branches 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, and at Sequim, Port Angeles, and Forks branches on Saturdays 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

To help protect employees and the public, all patrons are encouraged to wear a face covering when visiting the library.

“NOLS recognizes that masks are not easily accessible to many individuals in our community; during this time, when masks are required in public spaces, it is paramount that people have access to this essential personal protection equipment,” library officials said this week. “Masks are available to everyone while supplies last; please take only what you need for yourself and family.”

Library staff are are available to assist by phone, Monday-Saturday, at 360-417-8500, x2.