Peninsula counties record 13 more COVID-19 cases

A surge in new COVID-19 cases statewide also is trending on the North Olympic Peninsula as 13 more positives were reported in Clallam and Jefferson counties Saturday night and Sunday.

That gives the two counties a combined total of 32 new cases reported since Thursday night.

Clallam County has had 332 cases reported since March with 41 active cases. The infection rate was listed Sunday at 39 per 100,000 population over the past two weeks, which is considered moderate risk, though county health officer Dr. Allison Unthank said that number will be updated today.

Unthank said some of the new cases are tied to a long-term care facility and a church.

Jefferson County reported four new positives Sunday for a total of 116, with 27 active cases.

County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said the new infection rate is likely higher than 75 per 100,000 now, which is in the high-risk category.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday ordered all indoor dining to halt for the next 30 days and will prohibit any indoor social gatherings with people outside of a household. Gyms are also closed, and grocery stores, other businesses and religious services are restricted to 25 percent indoor occupancy.

Locke said he agreed that Inslee had to “act aggressively” to take measures with the rising infection rate in Washington. The state recorded 2,900 new infections Thursday and 2,500 on Friday. Not all counties report their numbers on the weekends.

Locke said one difference between Inslee’s new restrictions and the ones that went into place in the spring is officials have a better idea of how COVID-19 spreads and have more information about where the virus is most prone to spread — gyms, restaurants, social gatherings and places of worship.

Locke said Inslee’s earlier order that people who travel out of state need to quarantine from their workplaces for two weeks is also important. Many of the cases in Jefferson County have been caused by people traveling out of state, then spreading it in households or workplaces before they realize they have been infected by the virus, Locke said.

“It’s extremely important that people who travel out of state not return to work,” he said.

Locke said this surge is happening at a bad time with the onset of winter and holidays, when people tend to travel and gather.

“We can manage this surge,” he said. “It’s coming at a really bad time with the winter and the holidays and a national situation I can only describe as crazy train.”

Locke will provide his weekly update on COVID-19 to the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners at 9:45 a.m. today. That presentation can be viewed at www.tinyurl.com/jeffcomeetings.

Locke said that while the situation is getting more serious, he remains optimistic as the Peninsula’s infection rates are still far below most of the state.

“I’m not going to focus on the doom and gloom,” he said. “We’ll talk about what’s going on and what do we need to do. We’re still way lower than the rest of the state.”

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