Nationwide transmission of COVID-19 is starting to increase again, although there has not been a significant rise on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties, said Monday that case rates are still high and pose a risk to the community even though transmission hasn’t increased significantly.
“We’re still seeing quite a bit of transmission and we are at a risky time,” Berry said during her briefing with the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners.
Both Peninsula counties remain in the state’s high-risk category with case rates more than 75 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks.
The counties need to have rates below that for two weeks before Berry will lift the order mandating that indoor dining is limited to vaccinated customers only.
Clallam County had a case rate of 276 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Monday, according to county public health data.
In Jefferson County, health officials recorded a case rate of 201.93 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Nov. 10. It is a small increase from when the county had a rate of 181.82 cases per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Nov. 3.
Berry urged those gathering for Thanksgiving to be vaccinated family and friends only. However, if it is a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated, she recommended people wear good face masks and distance from each other.
Those traveling by plane should consider wearing a higher-end face mask such as a KN95 or an N95, Berry said.
Berry continues to urge all residents 5 and older to get vaccinated for COVID-19, as people continue to bring gatherings indoors due to the worsening weather.
Misinformation on vaccine deaths
A common piece of misinformation being spread is that many people have been dying from the COVID-19 vaccines, and that is false, Berry said. Eleven people nationwide and fewer than 20 worldwide have died due to a rare complication causing severe blood clots due to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Berry said.
As of Monday, more than 750,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Berry also said people won’t know how severe COVID-19 will affect them until it does, and there have been several cases of long-haulers who will survive the initial infection but will have to manage new heart problems, respiratory issues, brain fog and other symptoms for months afterward, and some of those health problems are expected to be chronic through out the rest of those patients’ lives.
“You don’t know if you’re going to get a cold or you’re going to end up in the ICU,” Berry said.
According to the latest data from the state Department of Health, 81.6 percent of the population 12 and older in Jefferson County have started vaccinations, with 77.7 percent fully vaccinated.
Of the entire population, 75.1 percent have begun vaccination and 71.5 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.
In Clallam County, 75.7 percent of the population 12 and older have started vaccinations, with 70.9 percent fully vaccinated.
Of the total population, 67.2 percent have begun vaccinations, with 63 percent fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.
On Monday, Clallam County added a total of 43 cases from Saturday and Sunday. The county has confirmed a total of 5,122 cases since the start of the pandemic, Berry said.
Jefferson County added four new cases on Monday from the weekend. The county has confirmed a total of 1,221 cases since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.
Neither county reported a new death on Monday due to COVID-19. Clallam County has had 68 residents die from the novel coronavirus, while Jefferson County has had 17 residents die.
As of Monday morning, five Jefferson County residents were hospitalized for COVID-19, while Clallam County had four residents hospitalized.