SOUTH BEND — After several weeks of encouraging trends, Pacific County finds itself walking a tightrope as public health nurses are monitoring a dozen active coronavirus cases after a recent surge.

Eight new confirmed cases of covid-19 were reported in the county between Sept. 3 and Sept. 7, according to the Pacific County Health and Human Services Department. Another four probable cases are also being monitored, and the department expects to receive confirmatory test results by Sept. 9, according to Stephanie Michael, the department’s health manager.

As of the Observer’s print time on Sept. 8, 68 total cases have been reported in Pacific County, not including the four probable cases.

All six of the cases reported on Sept. 3 and 4 are family connections with an unknown origin of transmission, Michael said. There is no connection to other cases as of yet, but case investigation and contact tracing are still ongoing, she said. Three of the individuals are age 20 or younger, one is between 20 and 30 years old and the other two are between 40 and 50 years old.

The two cases announced on Sept. 7 are not connected to each other or any other reported case as of yet, Michael said. One of the individuals is between 60 and 70 years old and was tested out of county and will remain isolated out of county. The case was attributed to Pacific County because their primary address is located in the county.

The other confirmed case reported on Sept. 7 is a 4-month-old child, the youngest confirmed case the county has reported during the pandemic so far. Case investigation and contact tracing are still ongoing, Michael said.

The four probable cases that the county is actively monitoring and awaiting confirmation consists of a family who had been traveling, Michael said.

The department will release updated case figures by zip code on Wednesday, as it does on a weekly basis.

School considerations

As of Sept. 7, Pacific County’s case rate is 36 new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week rolling average. If all four of the probable cases are confirmed, the case rate will rise to 55 new cases.

In August, state recommendations established three categories that Washington’s 39 counties fall under: high-risk, which are counties with more than 75 new cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period; moderate-risk, which are counties with between 25 and 75 cases; and low-risk, which are counties with fewer than 25 cases.

For counties in the high-risk category, the state strongly recommends school districts only provide distance learning with no in-person instruction. For moderate-risk counties, the state recommends distance learning for middle and high schools, with possible in-person learning options for elementary schools.

Students in Ocean Beach School District began the academic year this week with remote classes at all grade levels. The district plans to reassess the situation next Wednesday, Sept. 16, to decide whether to transition to a hybrid learning model on Sept. 21.

If and when OBSD moves to its hybrid model, students will be on-campus two days a week, while learning remotely the other three days. Start and end times to the school day will be shortened to the minimum time allowed.

More cases coming?

The dozen new cases were all tested prior to a Labor Day weekend that saw tens of thousands of people descend upon the Long Beach Peninsula. Any new cases of the virus that were contracted over the weekend likely will not be reflected in the data until the following week at the earliest, as symptoms usually take anywhere from 2-14 days to develop, and several more days to get tested and receive confirmation.

Local public health officials expect another busy weekend this week, when the annual Rod Run to the End of the World was slated to be held in Ocean Park. Beach Barons Car Club members voted to cancel official Rod Run activities earlier this summer, but Michael said last week that the county has heard through unofficial channels about car enthusiasts still planning to travel to the peninsula this weekend.

Statewide as of Sept. 6, 1,953 covid-19 deaths have been reported in Washington since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as 6,913 hospitalizations. Three deaths and eight hospitalizations are attributed to Pacific County. There have been 77,545 reported cases of covid-19 in the state.

On Sept. 4 the Aberdeen Daily World reported a spike in Grays Harbor County cases — 51 for the week, according to Grays Harbor Public Health. That puts the county’s total for the pandemic so far at 278. There have been six covid deaths in Grays Harbor, which has about three times more total population than Pacific.

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