Phased reopening of Olympic Peninsula in the works

Health officials were planning Wednesday for the phased reopening of the North Olympic Peninsula as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the region remained at 55.

Clallam County’s latest cases were four people, children and young adults — two males and two females between the ages of 10 and 20 — who were part of a household that was exposed to a coronavirus case that originated in King County.

“They’re all at home and doing well,” Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank said when reached by cell phone Wednesday.

“They’re still sick, but they didn’t require medical attention.”

Only decade of age, gender and county of residence are provided with COVID-19 statistics to protect patient privacy. The same is true for influenza, measles and other viral infections.

Unthank announced the four new COVID-19 cases during a Clallam County Board of Health meeting Tuesday.

The children and young adults were related to a couple in their 50s who were recently exposed to a confirmed case in a person who was tested in Clallam County but is a King County resident, Unthank said.

“It was basically the whole household,” Unthank said.

Clallam County had 25 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday.

Jefferson County had 30 confirmed cases.

“It was pointed out that our case count went up by one,” Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said Wednesday.

“This is actually a Jefferson County resident who’s currently residing in Arizona who was diagnosed and treated there.”

Health officials in both counties expect to see a rise in COVID-19 transmission as Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order is phased out.

Jefferson County elected officials and economic leaders met Tuesday to support Locke’s recommendation for moving to Phase 2 of Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan.

“My impression from last night is there was a general agreement among elected officials to move forward with a kind of modified implementation of Phase 2,” Locke said Wednesday.

The Jefferson County Board of Health will meet at 2:30 p.m. today to consider approving an application for a modified Phase 2 variance.

Clallam County was one of 10 counties selected Tuesday to be eligible for a Phase 2 reopening.

Unthank said Clallam County meets most of the Phase 2 criteria but needs more public health staff to rapidly and effectively perform outbreak investigations in congregate living spaces and workplaces.

Clallam County commissioners approved Unthank’s request for more staff Monday.

The Clallam County Board of Health is expected to vote on a Phase 2 variance in a special meeting next Wednesday.

A Phase 2 application requires a recommendation from the county health officer and votes of the Board of Health and county commissioners.

Phase 2 allows outdoor recreation and gatherings of up to five people.

Businesses allowed to reopen under Phase 2 are remaining manufacturing and construction, in-home/domestic services, retail with restrictions, real estate, professional services and office-based businesses, hair and nail salons and barbers, pet grooming and restaurants or taverns with less than 50 percent capacity.

Unthank said it’s unlikely the state will move to Phase 2 on June 1.

“I think there was some public confusion that we would actually wait behind the state,” Unthank said.

“We won’t. If the state says open on June 1, we’re all going to move on June 1, but I suspect that even if the state isn’t ready, we will be ready by June 1.”

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