North Olympic Peninsula records 14th COVID death

A COVID-19 death was confirmed Monday, May 24, in Clallam County after a man in his 60s had been hospitalized for a week with the novel coronavirus, health officials said.

The man, who had underlying health conditions, died Sunday. Officials confirmed Monday that the cause of his death was COVID-19, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

A total of 11 Clallam residents have died from COVID-19, while three Jefferson residents have died from the disease since the beginning of the pandemic.

Clallam County confirmed 10 additional COVID-19 cases between Friday and Monday, while Jefferson County confirmed three cases during that time, said Berry and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

The new cases in Clallam County continue to be related to out-of-county travel and subsequent exposures, Berry said.

Both health officers continue to stress the importance of vaccinations, while case rates continue to drop in both counties, statewide and nationwide.

One of the recent cases in Clallam County is a resident who recovered from COVID-19 and became reinfected, Berry said.

“Immunity can wane, so even if you had COVID in the past, we recommend you get vaccinated because the vaccine will provide you longer-lasting immunity,” Berry said. “We’re seeing the power of vaccinations in our case investigations.

“So, when we do a contact tracing now, we often find that that person could’ve exposed 20 people, but 16 of those were vaccinated and the virus really stops there. So, we are really seeing the beneficial effects of the number of people in our community who are vaccinated.”

Locke said the state has seen a case rate decline of about 47 percent in the past two weeks, and while case rates are still high in other parts of the state, if residents continue to use caution — such as limiting travel to high transmission areas, continuing to wear masks and social distance — disease levels can continue to drop significantly going into the summer.

“If we do things right, we can benefit from the exponential decay of outbreaks,” Locke said during his Monday briefing with the Jefferson County commissioners.

While case rates have fallen statewide, the death rate continues to average about 12 Washington residents each day, and “we really want that number as close to zero as possible,” Locke said.

Locke reiterated he is keeping Jefferson County’s mask mandate for people gathering indoors in businesses and restaurants, because there is no way for employees to determine if someone is vaccinated or not.

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 location of the former ice skating rink, 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 has confirmed 102 cases so far this month, about 7.63 percent of the 1,336 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data.

A total of 25 cases have been confirmed so far this month in Jefferson County, about 6.02 percent of the 415 total cases confirmed in the past year, according to county public health data.

Twenty-three COVID-19 cases were active as of Monday in Clallam County, with three patients currently hospitalized and one in the Intensive Care Unit. Jefferson County had three active cases Monday.

Both counties are in the state’s moderate-risk category, with Clallam County having a case rate of 62 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.

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