Two new deaths from COVID-19 were reported in Clallam County on Tuesday, raising the total number of deaths in the county to 44 and the total death toll on the North Olympic Peninsula to 57 since the pandemic began.
Both deaths were women, one unvaccinated and one fully vaccinated.
The unvaccinated woman was in her 80s; she died on Sept. 12, but officials received her death certificate Tuesday.
The vaccinated woman was in her 70s and was a resident of a long-term care facility that is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties.
Even while fully vaccinated, long-term care residents are at high risk for their bodies not responding fully to vaccines due to their health and age, Berry said during her briefing to the Clallam County Board of Health on Tuesday.
Because of that, such residents must also rely on people around them being vaccinated so they have a lower risk of exposure, she said.
A total of eight long-term care facilities in Clallam County are under investigation for COVID-19 outbreaks as of Tuesday, with a combined total of 122 residents and staff infected and five deaths so far, Berry said.
Jefferson County has one outbreak and has had 17 cases and six deaths associated with it as of Tuesday, Berry said.
Berry has said she does not name facilities under outbreak investigation if public health personnel and volunteers are able to trace contacts of the exposed people, or unless facilities confirm it publicly themselves.
Jefferson County held steady with no new deaths on Tuesday. The county has reported 13 deaths due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
On Tuesday, Clallam County added 38 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, raising the total number to 3,959 since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.
In Jefferson County, officials confirmed nine new cases of COVID-19, raising the total number to 941 since the pandemic began, public health data said.
Clallam County’s case rate continued to decrease, with the county reporting 1,096 cases per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Tuesday. The case rate on Friday was 1,232 per 100,000, according to county health data.
Jefferson County, which records its case rate weekly, on Monday reported 379.31 cases per 100,000 for the past two weeks as of Saturday, which is a significant drop from last week, when the case rate was more than 500 per 100,000.
As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, two people were hospitalized for COVID-19 at Jefferson Healthcare, according to a Facebook post by the hospital.
Clallam County had 12 residents hospitalized for COVID-19, Berry said.
While the case rates are decreasing, the rates are still extremely high and people need to continue to follow precautions such as mask wearing, social distancing, getting vaccinated and avoiding unmasked indoor gatherings, or else cases can start to rise quickly again, Berry said.
Berry continues to urge all residents 12 and older to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible, as well as continue to wear masks.
“It’s the biggest thing we can do to protect the community,” Berry said. “These two simple efforts can make a difference in the community.”
Nationwide, there is a shortage of monoclonal antibodies, which are treatments used for COVID-19 patients who are at high risk of developing severe disease to lessen the possibility of hospitalizations and deaths, Berry said.
Berry was informed by the state Department of Health that, due to the shortages and lack of shipments to the state, the North Olympic Peninsula won’t receive any additional treatments for at least the next three weeks.
That means health officials are having to be very selective in deciding which patients receive the treatment, prioritizing those who are at the highest risk of COVID-19 complications, Berry said.