Peninsula COVID-19 cases ‘moving in right direction’

One new case of COVID-19 was reported on the North Olympic Peninsula on Wednesday, representing a continued abatement in coronavirus activity in recent days.

After a two-day pause with no new cases, Clallam County added one case Wednesday for a total of 213 since March.

“I think we are really moving in the right direction,” Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank said Wednesday.

Jefferson County had no new cases Wednesday. It has had 70 since March.

“It does look like the recent weeks have been a wake-up call for some folks,” Unthank said, referring to August outbreaks at parties and a Port Angeles bar.

“I think a lot of our citizens are really starting to buckle down and follow the guidelines closely, which is very promising.”

Health officials continue to stress physical distancing, mask wearing and avoiding large gatherings, especially on national holidays like Labor Day.

Gatherings on Memorial Day weekend and Fourth of July were blamed for COVID-19 outbreaks around the state.

Clallam County’s two-week infection rate was 55 per 100,000 population as of Wednesday, near the middle of the 25- to 75-per-100,000 moderate-risk range.

Jefferson County’s infection rate remained at 28 cases per 100,000 Wednesday, Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said.

Jefferson County school districts are reopening this week and next week with a blend of in-person and remote learning.

Clallam County schools will offer only remote learning until the county’s infection rate remains below 75 per 100,000 for four weeks.

Jefferson County public health and school officials were finalizing protocols for the evaluation and rapid testing of students with mild symptoms of COVID-19, Locke said.

“Certainly if kids are sick enough to be seen by a health care practitioner, we can accommodate that, but some of them will have very mild symptoms, and we’re going to want to test them for COVID-19,” Locke said.

Students who test negative for COVID-19 can return to class three days after their symptoms resolve, Locke said.

“We’re developing a system where we can kind of collect these specimens around the county, so not just in Port Townsend, but South County as well,” Locke said.

“That’s something we’re working on just to standardize how we do it, because that will help promote consistency and effectiveness.”

Locke also planned to meet Wednesday with a Jefferson County Emergency Management policy council to discuss the multi-jurisdictional enforcement of COVID-19 regulations.

“We’re trying to do it as much as possible in an educational way, but there are penalties for people who just plain refuse to follow the state and local guidelines,” Locke said.

“So far, I think we’re getting really good cooperation among businesses and others.”

Locke and Unthank have each issued orders requiring food service establishments to abide by state COVID-19 orders or risk losing their operating permit.

“We have had to do some outreach to businesses, but so far we’ve been able to get folks on board with voluntary compliance,” Unthank said.

Clallam County health officials were shoring up a quarantine support system that will be deployed during large outbreaks should they occur.

“We’re also working on some outreach to make sure all parts of our county are getting access to good information of how to stay safe and access to testing,” Unthank said.

“One of the places were focusing on right now is making sure the West End has adequate access to testing and information for how to stay safe.”

Locke, a former Clallam County health officer, said the recent reduction in COVID-19 cases can be attributed to the work of the neighboring health department and Clallam County residents.

“If this trend holds, it means that people more and more are getting the message, and they’re masking and distancing and forgoing large gatherings,” Locke said.

More in News

Peninsula vaccine shots expected to rise to 13,000 by end of weekend

More than 13,000 people are expected to have received at least one… Continue reading

Hundreds debate fast-action bill to skip first phase of recovery plan

By Sydney Brown WNPA News Service Dozens of business owners — from… Continue reading

YMCAs in Sequim, Port Angeles reopen

The YMCA of Sequim and YMCA of Port Angeles re-opened their fitness… Continue reading

Health officer: Clallam vaccinations speedy compared to rest of Washington state

While continuing to face supply shortages of COVID-19 vaccines that stretch nationwide,… Continue reading

Sequim elementary school students headed back to classrooms next week

Plan set to bring back middle school, high school students at later dates

Health officers: Caution still needed as vaccines delivered

As vaccination efforts of the 1B1 group continued Tuesday, North Olympic Peninsula… Continue reading

Update: Clinic staff look to start online COVID-19 vaccine registration Feb. 2

Available age would shift to 65-and-up under new sign-up program

Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush, seen here in March 2020, will no longer be city manager after city councilors voted 4-2 Monday, Jan. 11, to accept his resignation. Reasons for resignation were not made public. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash
Details sparse on call for Bush resignation

Separation agreement could be approved Monday

Land use appeal decision looms for MAT clinic

SOS seeks standing, City of Sequim, Tribe seek dismissal

Most Read