Sequim’s COVID-19 timeline

Clallam County’s first confirmed COVID-19 case was identified March 18, 2020. Since then, the county has recorded 773 confirmed cases and four deaths, with 32,439 tests performed (as of Jan. 5, 2021).

Here’s a quick look back at some of the COVID-related headlines from the previous year:

• Feb. 12, A-10: “Risk of coronavirus ‘not a serious’ threat on peninsula”

Clallam County and Jefferson County public health officials monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19 said they are monitoring developments after more than 28,000 cases of a new coronavirus were confirmed in China by the World Health Organization. At the time (Feb. 6), WHO had seen just 216 confirmed cases in 24 countries worldwide and one death.

• March 4, A-1: “Sequim, Clallam taking steps to minimize coronavirus”

Local health officials say there are no known cases of the virus in Clallam County/Sequim as of March 3, but they feel it’s just a matter of time. Said Dr. Allison Berry Unthank, Clallam County health officer: “It’s entirely safe to go about your regular life, got to the store, movies., etc. Just wash your hands more and don’t touch your face. You can be out in the world.” State officials report 18 cases in King and Snohomish counties, and six people have died.

• March 18, A-1: “Sequim shuts down”

Washington state schools are closed through at least April 24, the Irrigation Festival events are put on hold and dozens of community events and group meetings are suspended; the Sequim Food Bank moves to a drive-through model to help feed the community. The City of Sequim declares a COVID-19 emergency.

• March 25, A-1: “State, county parks set closures to help stop virus spread” and “Residents ordered to stay home”

Clallam County commissioners declare an emergency on March 17, giving the government entity more flexibility to spend money on the local response to the pandemic. Thee days later, Clallam County Fire District 3 follows suit; the move allows the fire district to make immediate calls on hiring more staff or signing agreements with neighboring districts without waiting for board approval.

• April 1, A-1: “Critical week for coronavirus containment” and “City, state parks close to help stop virus spread”

The state reported 26 new COVID-19 deaths on March 27, the largest single day of fatalities from the virus. There have been no fatalities in Clallam or Jefferson counties. City, state and local parks close.

• April 8, A-1: “Schools closed for remainder of academic year” and “Clallam cases remain at 8”

• April 15, A-1: “Coronavirus may peak this month”

As an additional case of the new coronavirus was confirmed this weekend, health officers in Clallam and Jefferson counties pointed to the success of social distancing measures and suggested the governor could lift restrictions in a phased process as early as next month.

• April 22, A-1: “Health officials look toward reopening in early May”

For the first time since the initial COVID-19 case was diagnosed on the North Olympic Peninsula on March 6, no additional cases were discovered in Clallam or Jefferson counties this past weekend.

• May 6, “A-1: “Clallam reopening on hold”

While Jefferson County took its first step toward reopening certain business sectors as one of 10 rural counties across the state to qualify for a restart, Clallam County did not qualify for the same waiver because it hadn’t had a two-week period without a confirmed cases of COVID-19. Gov. Jay Inslee reopened golf across the state on May 5, with a number of health guidelines and restrictions.

• May 13, A-1: “Officials concerned about travel from outside of county”

COVID-19 cases in Clallam and Jefferson counties hold at 48 after no new cases are reported over the weekend.

• May 20, A-1: “Health officer: Clallam could move to Phase 2 by June”

Clallam County joins nine other counties in seeking to reopen businesses and other operations more quickly, based on new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 of population.

May 27, A-1: “Peninsula counties planning for Phase 2”

• June 3, A-1: “Clallam, Jefferson join Phase 2, reopen some businesses”

Both counties on June 1 entered a near-full Phase 2 of Inslee’s four-part state reopening plan, one that opened in-store retail shopping and in-restaurant dining along with other activities.

• June 10, A-1: “Officials planning regional approach for Phase 3”

• June 17, A-1: “Clallam confirms new cases, total at 33”

Clallam County confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 Monday (June 15) during a week in which health officials are expected to consider re-opening overnight camping.

• June 24, A-1: “Health officer: No mask mandate for Clallam” and A-10: “More than 30 homeless in COVID-19 shelter”

While Jefferson County has mandated masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and is considering criminal and civil penalties, Unthank said she will not recommend a mandate that would include penalties.

• July 1, A-1: “Clallam County officials: Phase 3 plans to be tabled”

Unthank said she plans to tell the Clallam County Board of Health it should remain in Phase 2 of the COVID-19 restrictions due to two recent outbreaks of the virus locally, including one at Olympic Medical Center.

• July 8, A-1: “No mask, no service starts this week”

July 7 marked the start of the statewide “No Mask, No Service” rule that bars businesses from selling to customers who are unmasked.

• July 15, A-1: “Two new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Clallam County” and A-7: “Masks now part of shopping experience”

Two more cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Clallam County on July 13, bringing the total number on the North Olympic Peninsula to 105 since its outbreak in March.

• July 22, A-1: “Peninsula holds at 118 confirmed COVID-19 cases”

The state secretary of health returned the Safe Start applications to Jefferson and six other counties as the phased reopening process remains on pause.

• July 29, A-1: “Clallam Official: Schools can open in fall”

Unthank said she is confident schools can offer onsite instruction this fall — even if COVID-19 cases increase — by following the lead of hospitals that have workers relatively coronavirus-free, she said this week.

• Aug. 5, A-1: “Virus case numbers may achieve plateau”

• Aug. 12, A-1: “Clallam adds three new COVID-19 cases”

• Aug. 19, A-1: “Clallam COVID cases continue to rise”

Unthank said she is very concerned with the recent rise in cases — 26 confirmed since Friday (Aug. 14) — because the possibility of hybrid in-person schooling for grade schools may not be safe if it continues.

• Aug. 26, A-1: “Clallam sees 9 new COVID cases”

Clallam County is in the state’s high-risk category with 84 cases per 100,000 of population in the past two weeks. In comparison, the statewide rate is 108.2 cases per 100,000.

• Sept. 2, A-1: “Peninsula counties both in moderate risk category”

Sept. 9, A-1: “Downward COVID-19 trend continues in Clallam, Jefferson”

Clallam County is now three days without a confirmed new case of COVID-19 and continues to be in the moderate-risk category with 41 cases per 100,000 population for the past two weeks.

• Sept. 16, A-1: “Drop in cases has Clallam, Jefferson in low-risk category”

• Sept. 23, A-1: “Health officers concerned about weekend political rally”

Unthank and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County’s health officer, said they are concerned about a possible uptick in cases resulting from a rally on behalf of Republican gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp, held Sept. 19 at the Extreme Sports Park Sept. 19 near Port Angeles. A Clallam County office housing the Department of Community Development, environmental health and public works employees was closed after two cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed among the staff.

• Oct. 7, A-1: “Official: Masks under costumes OK for Halloween”

• Oct. 14, A-1: “Health officers cite compliance for slowing COVID transmission rate”

Oct. 21, A-1: “Health officers: ‘Difficult phase’ ahead”

As fall continues on to winter, conditions for the novel coronavirus to spread will become more favorable, peninsula health officers warned.

• Oct. 28, A-1: “Clallam COVID-19 cases push county back to moderate-risk status”

The county’s case rate increased to 26 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks. Out-of-county travel has been the primary driver for many of the new cases in Clallam County, Unthank said.

Nov. 18, A-1: “New COVID-19 restrictions in place as state shuts down again” and A-8: “County cases reach record-high COVID-19 numbers”

Clallam County reports 16 cases in a single day, and is on the edge of entering the state’s high-risk category. A significant spike in 2019 novel coronavirus cases moved Inslee to mandate restrictions on restaurants, fitness centers and some indoor activities to stem the virus’ spread.

• Dec. 2, A-4: “State launches voluntary COVID-19 tracing app” and A-5: “Schools close buildings, revert to remote instruction”

WA Notify, a smartphone application, was launched statewide and can alert users if they come into close contact with someone who has been exposed to COVID-19.

• Dec. 9, A-7: “No virus ‘surge’ yet after Thanksgiving”

A set of restrictions that took effect last month — including those limiting restaurants and bars to to-go service and outdoor dining — were slated to expire Dec. 14 but will now be extended another three weeks.

• Dec. 16, A-1: “Pfizer vaccine arrives in Washington state”

The first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine — 975 doses worth — were scheduled to come to Clallam and Jefferson counties in the first batch sent to Washington.

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