Mask mandate returns in Chimacum

Another COVID death reported in Jefferson County

Posted 5/19/22

A school-wide mask mandate was imposed at Chimacum Junior/Senior High School Monday.

The requirement for masks was announced Friday by Dr. Allison Berry, public health officer for Jefferson and …

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Mask mandate returns in Chimacum

Another COVID death reported in Jefferson County

Posted

A school-wide mask mandate was imposed at Chimacum Junior/Senior High School Monday.

The requirement for masks was announced Friday by Dr. Allison Berry, public health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties.

Berry issued a health order requiring all students and staff to wear masks while in school for the next seven days. 

“The purpose of this order is to mitigate transmission of COVID-19 and keep the school open,” Berry said in the order.

Berry noted the amount of COVID-19 transmission at the school made the masking order necessary.

“We’re starting to see a lot of is clusters of COVID-19 transmission in schools,” Berry told Jefferson County commissioners at their weekly pandemic update Monday.

There is a currently “really high risk” of people getting exposed to COVID in schools, Berry said, due to people not wearing masks.

“This is not entirely unsurprising with these kind of case rates, and how many of our students are currently unmasked in schools,” she added. “It’s an indoor area where you’re sitting with 25-plus people and often, especially in junior and senior high, moving between multiple classes.”

Berry said more mask mandates may be on the way.

“We are likely to see additional need for masking requirements in schools in the coming weeks, just due to the amount of transmission.

“The primary goal there is that we want to see our schools open and our kids able to attend school,” she said. “And if we get too much transmission at school, if we get too many teachers infected in particular, we lose the ability to keep kids in in-person school.”

Berry said such restrictions would not be lengthy.

“We don’t make those decisions lightly,” she noted.

The mask mandate came as Jefferson County reported its first COVID-19 death in more than two months, and the case rate for the coronavirus continues to climb in Washington state and across the country.

The U.S. also passed a somber milestone this week: passing the million mark in the number of COVID-19 deaths.

Jefferson County health officials announced Friday another resident passed away from the virus, bringing the total number of in-county COVID deaths to 29. It was the first COVID-19-related death reported in Jefferson County since March 3.

Berry said another Jefferson County resident, a man in his 70s, had died from the coronavirus.

“He died out-of-state, but he did die due to COVID pneumonia. We are counting it; he’s a Jefferson County resident. We don’t have any evidence that he was vaccinated in-state.

“But we can’t rule out that he got a vaccine out-of-state.”

Berry said neighboring Clallam County has had 112 deaths from COVID-19, and a total of
369 hospitalizations.

In addition to rising case rates, more and more people are being hospitalized due to the virus.

“We are continuing to see cases rise relatively rapidly throughout the country, driven particularly by the Northeast and the Midwest,” Berry said.

“We are starting to see hospitalizations rise as well, up 20 percent around the country. That is less severe than we have seen in prior Delta and Omicron surges,” she added, “but we are certainly starting to see that rise.”

Jefferson County reported 66 new COVID cases over the weekend, with a total of 3,770 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Total hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic have numbered 127 in Jefferson County.

“We have no people currently in the hospital for COVID 19,” Berry said.

Berry said the county is “well beyond” the point needed to recommend that people wear masks in indoor settings.

“I would strongly recommend that all of us wear a high quality mask when we’re indoors around other people, especially if you’re in a group of more than
10 people,” she said. 

Berry said the milestone of
1 million deaths was “a sobering number that I don’t think any of us ever thought we were going to pass.

“And many of those deaths were unnecessary when it comes to COVID-19,” Berry continued.

“We know how to prevent transmission of COVID-19; we know how to prevent severe disease and death. The best thing we can do to reduce severe disease to the COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. The best thing we can do to reduce transmission of COVID-19 is to wear a high quality mask in indoor settings.”

Jefferson County has not seen a high death rate from the disease, Berry noted, “largely due to the work of our community to do those two important things.”

Berry is encouraging residents to keep masking indoors, and for people to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.

“And if you’re over 65, consider getting a second booster as well, so that you can be protected in this most recent surge,” she said.

Comments

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  • boatfixx

    https://www.porttownsendfreepress.com/2022/05/23/diving-deep-into-county-health-claims/

    Monday, May 23 Report this

  • Dcc

    Congratulations to Dr. Berry winning Young Professional of the Year. You have way more supporters than critics.

    Wednesday, May 25 Report this