Peninsula officials eye Phase 3 applications

Jefferson County officials hope to apply for a Phase 3 reopening as early as Saturday while Clallam County aims to have state approval for application by June 22.

No new COVID-19 cases were reported in either Jefferson or Clallam counties this weekend.

Health officials in both counties were concerned that new cases would show up, especially in Jefferson County because of an outbreak in Kitsap County that involved people with residences in Jefferson.

However, Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, said there were no new Jefferson positives as of Sunday. Those tests were conducted Friday, so if they were positive, they should have shown up by Sunday, he said.

Officials in Clallam County, which has completed its first week of Phase 2 restrictions with no new major outbreaks, expect a rise in cases with loosened restrictions.

Clallam County Undersheriff Ron Cameron said the county is also doing a lot more testing for COVID-19.

“I’m kind of surprised,” he said. “I’ll be surprised if we don’t have more cases with the number of tests we’re doing.”

Jefferson County had 31 confirmed cases and Clallam County had 27 for 58 total on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Three new cases were confirmed on the Peninsula last week.

Locke said if all goes to plan, Jefferson County could be approved to apply for Phase 3 on Saturday, which is three weeks after the state approved the county’s application for Phase 2.

That doesn’t mean Jefferson will move to Phase 3 on Saturday, it just means the county is welcome to apply to the state after that date.

In Phase 3, some outdoor group recreation and sports with 50 or fewer people can begin again, restaurants can increase capacity to 75 percent, and bars can reopen up to 25 percent capacity.

Movie theaters can also open with less than 50 percent capacity, and libraries and museums can reopen.

Locke said he will prepare recommendations a week ahead of time — on Thursday — for the Jefferson County Board of Health (BOH) meeting scheduled for June 18. The BOH may apply to move to Phase 3 at that meeting.

Cameron said if Clallam County can avoid any major outbreaks, it’s possible the state could approve it to apply for Phase 3, which would allow more businesses to open and more capacity in restaurants, as early as June 22.

Some counties in eastern Washington already have moved to Phase 3. They include Whitman County, which has a fairly sizable city in Pullman. Whitman County was approved for Phase 3 on Friday.

Also today, Gov. Jay Inslee’s order that all employees must wear masks in the workplace to protect their coworkers goes into effect. Cameron stressed that law enforcement will not be going to local businesses to enforce the rule and that it is under the purview of the state Department of Labor and Industries.

“It would be so terribly difficult to enforce,” Cameron said. “We’re counting on peer pressure that people should do it if they can.”

Locke also said there would not be Jefferson law enforcement involved in enforcing the workplace mask mandate.

Jefferson and Clallam each will have their COVID-19 updates today.

Jefferson’s will be held at 9:45 a.m. Clallam County’s meeting will be at 10 a.m.

Cameron said this will be the final Monday COVID-19 update for Clallam County as the county will receive updates only on Fridays in the future.