More than 13,000 people are expected to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the weekend on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Health officers continue to urge residents to wear face masks, practice social distancing and wash hands as the state and Clallam and Jefferson counties have high rates of COVID-19 transmission.
On Thursday, Clallam County confirmed nine additional cases of COVID-19, while Jefferson County added three new cases, according to county public health data.
The new cases in Clallam County are from different areas and stem from social gatherings and potential workplace exposures, something county Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry called “concerning.”
“Whenever we see a bunch of different cases pop up in multiple locations, that’s concerning from our end,” Berry said. “I think it’s a good reminder that this virus is still spreading, and we can’t let our guard down now.
“One of my concerns is that we have certainly seen the more contagious variant of the virus spreading in other parts of the country, so I’m always concerned about when that is going to show up here,” Berry continued. “It’s really important that people be thoughtful about avoiding gathering, especially indoors.
“Whenever that strain of virus does come here, we’re going to see the virus spread much more rapidly. We’re kind of in a race against the mutations as far as vaccinations and physical distancing.”
Clallam County is estimated to have vaccinated more than 9,000 people as of Thursday morning with at least the first dose of vaccine, Berry said.
Jefferson Healthcare hospital personnel will have vaccinated more than 4,000 people by the end of this weekend with at least the first dose of vaccine, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.
Locke hopes the vaccine supply will increase soon, but he said it’s in the hands of the state and federal governments, which are overseeing distribution.
President Joe Biden implemented several executive orders Thursday that are focused on increasing personal protective equipment, vaccination supplies and other ways to fight the pandemic, which Locke supports.
“It’s exactly what we should’ve been doing over the last year,” Locke said. “I welcome that. I find the delay inexcusable, but that’s water under the bridge, and we have to move forward.
“This is the darkest hour of the pandemic, but at least we have a plan as to how to deal with it and get to the other side of the crisis.”
First-come, first-served vaccination clinics will be hosted this weekend in Forks and Sequim.
The Forks clinic will be stationed today and Saturday at the Peninsula College branch campus parking area, 481 S. Forks Ave.
Vaccinations will be available for Forks-area residents who are a part of the full 1B1 group — 70 or older and people 50 or older in a multigenerational household — from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
People should bring photo ID and arrive at 10 a.m. and remain in their car until they receive instructions.
The Sequim clinic is conducted by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and will be on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for up to 600 vaccinations in Carrie Blake Park, 202 N. Blake Ave. Participants register at the Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave.
Port Angeles vaccinations are by appointment only, and all slots have been filled. No walk-ins will be accepted.
So far this month, Clallam County has confirmed 139 cases, about 15.7 percent of the 888 it has confirmed since March, according to Clallam County Public Health data.
Jefferson County has confirmed 57 cases of COVID-19, about 20.6 percent of the 277 it has confirmed since March, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.
Forty-one COVID-19 cases were active as of Thursday in Clallam County, and three people were hospitalized.
Jefferson County had 14 active cases.
The test positivity on the Peninsula — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 6.3 percent in Clallam County for Jan. 3-17, and 3.23 percent in Jefferson County for Jan. 11-17.
Clallam County had a case rate of 142 per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior as of Thursday.
Jefferson County’s case rate was at about 116 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.
Both counties are in the state’s high-risk category.