COVID spike continues as cases climb rapidly in Jefferson County

Posted 11/25/20

Jefferson County’s spike in COVID-19 cases continued this week as eight new infections were announced Monday by county public health officials.

At least two new cases have been announced …

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COVID spike continues as cases climb rapidly in Jefferson County

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Jefferson County’s spike in COVID-19 cases continued this week as eight new infections were announced Monday by county public health officials.

At least two new cases have been announced every day since Monday,
Nov. 16, and there have been 36 new cases in all in Jefferson County in the span of a week.

“Numbers-wise, things continue to get worse,” Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said Monday.

Locke noted that the number of coronavirus cases is climbing across the country, with more than 3 million infections in the U.S. 

“That’s a 54 percent increase over the last two weeks. Death rates are going up too,” Locke told Jefferson County commissioners Monday during his weekly update on the pandemic.

The U.S. has been averaging about 1,200 COVID deaths a day, and Locke noted that the death toll is a “lagging indicator” that rises following increases in coronavirus infections.

“We are expecting higher mortality rates in  the coming weeks,” he added.

The rise in cases is coming as the public is tiring of life during the pandemic, and Locke added that the risk of infection will  increase during the colder months as more people are inside.

“Everyone is struggling with quarantine fatigue,” he added.

The spike in cases is also affecting the ability of health officials to keep up.

“An important thing for people to realize when we’re seeing these higher rates, it’s really stressing the ability to do high quality case investigation and contact tracing,” Locke said.

While other counties are struggling to keep up with case investigations and contact tracing, Jefferson County’s 11 trained investigators have been able to keep up — so far.

Locke noted Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent ramp-up of restrictions to help control the spread of COVID, but also noted that a number of states have adopted curfews to control the spike in cases.

“That might be what’s next for Washington state,” he said. “We can’t afford to let our hospitals surge out.”

The concern, Locke noted, is not the lack of hospital beds but the medical workers needed to staff those beds.

Family and large group gatherings for Thanksgiving also have health officials worried.

“The holidays are an extreme concern to us,” Locke said, and he noted the calls from officials at all levels of government cautioning people against holiday travel and the request to limit the size of family gatherings.

“We know a lot of people aren’t going to do that,” he said.

The number of people traveling by air in the past week has seen its highest level since the start of the pandemic, and Locke said it’s been estimated that
50 million people will travel in-state or between states for the holidays.

If people don’t modify their plans, he added, “a lot will come back to Washington state infected.”

The eight new COVID cases announced in Jefferson County Monday all involved Port Townsend residents.

Four women were infected; one in her 50s, one in her 60s, and two over the age of 80. A man over the age of 80, a man in his 40s, and two men in their 60s, were also confirmed to have the coronavirus.

The total number of COVID cases in Jefferson County stood at 148 Tuesday morning.

County health officials said 86 patients in Jefferson County have recovered from COVID-19 and are no longer hospitalized.

According to Jefferson County Public Health, a total of 12,520 patients have been tested for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and 12,296 have tested negative.

Test results are still pending for 76 people.

Through Tuesday, 77 COVID cases have been found in Port Townsend residents; 57 in mid-county residents; and 14 in south county (Quilcene, Brinnon, and West Jefferson).

Most of the confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Jefferson County — 76 through Tuesday morning — have been found in men. Seventy-two women who live in the county have tested positive for COVID-19 through Nov. 24.

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