Seven new COVID-19 cases in Clallam; no new cases in Jefferson

Seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were added to Clallam County’s total on Thursday, while Jefferson County did not add a case for the third consecutive day.

Clallam County’s total is now at 117 since March, while Jefferson County held at 54 as of Thursday.

Seventy-eight COVID-19 cases have recovered in Clallam County and 44 cases have recovered in Jefferson County, according to public health data.

Of the seven newest cases in Clallam County, three are within one household, two are part of another household and the remaining two are separate, said Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer.

Primarily, the newest cases are connected to other known cases, Unthank said.

While the new cases have mild symptoms, the one that was hospitalized earlier this week was in the intensive care unit as of Thursday, Unthank said.

Unthank has been stressing that some people with COVID-19 have been continuing to go to work because they had mild symptoms and that people need to stay home and get tested when they are sick.

“We’ve had some folks who had mild illness, so didn’t get tested right away because of that, and worked when they were sick, and we’re seeing the subsequent cases of that exposure,” Unthank said.

“The big message we’re trying to get out is very mild illness can still be COVID-19, so it’s really important not to work, even if you’re just a little bit sick, and it’s also really important to go get tested right away if you’re feeling at all ill.”

Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke agreed.

“I think people working while they’re ill is a problem everywhere,” Locke said. “People are just used to doing that, and it’s a hard habit to break.

“I absolutely agree that, at an absolute minimum, it’s important for anyone who is sick to stay home until the symptoms of their illness are gone for at least 24 hours. So even if they did have COVID-19, if the symptoms were resolved for 24 hours, they wouldn’t spread it.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of COVID-19 include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.

Testing is being done through primary care clinics in Clallam County.

In Jefferson County, it is being done at Jefferson Healthcare. Jefferson County residents can call the nurse hotline at 360-344-3094 to schedule an appointment.

“(Testing) is at no cost to you,” said Unthank, “so, if you have insurance, it’s covered. If you’re uninsured, it’s covered by a program out of the federal government to pay for it.

“So we do really want everyone to get tested. Basically if you just have a cold, go get tested.”

The counties are not doing widespread testing for people without any symptoms, due to the still-limited resources of testing materials. Also, lab officials are prioritizing people who are sick and close contacts of people who have COVID-19, Unthank said.

“Because at the state level we have prioritized those folks, we still have a [test] turnaround time of about two to three days,” Unthank said.

“In other areas where they’re allowing anyone to get tested, no matter whether or not they are sick or had contact with anyone, they’re seeing a turnaround time of about 10 to 14 days on their labs; so they’re basically useless now,” she said.

7 Cedars Casino cases

The Peninsula Daily News received what was reported to be a letter sent to 7 Cedars Casino employees by Human Resources Director Allie Plute on Monday, Aug. 3, that said two employees had tested positive for COVID-19.

The letter has since been distributed publicly through social media.

The letter said the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe had worked closely with the county health department and with Locke, who is also the Jamestown public health officer, in following response protocols.

Contact tracing was complete, the letter said, and all employees potentially at risk of exposure were in quarantine.

It said any who had not been contacted and were concerned should contact the human resources director.

The letter added as a separate paragraph that Napoli’s Deli was temporarily closed for “deep cleaning and sanitation.”

Jamestown S’Klallam Chairman Ron Allen said, “No comment” when asked about the letter Thursday.

Unthank would not confirm or deny the claim in keeping with a policy of not identifying those who are ill or businesses that have illnesses.

Unthank did say, “We don’t have evidence of an outbreak at 7 Cedars Casino at this point.

“The definition of an outbreak we use is the same as the state, which is two or more cases at a place of business with evidence of transmission at that place of business or any other congregate setting, and we don’t have that.”

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