SOUTH BEND — Nine new cases of covid-19 were reported in Pacific County over the past week, as the county’s total case count since the beginning of the pandemic rose to 77.

Of the new cases, five are related to family gatherings following travel, two are linked to a previously disclosed positive case, one was diagnosed out of the county, and case investigation and contact tracing are ongoing for the most recent case announced on Sept. 14, according to the Pacific County Health and Human Services Department.

There are currently 12 active cases being monitored by public health nurses; 10 confirmed cases and two probable cases. Of the nine new cases, one is between 10 and 20 years old, three are between 30 and 40 years old, one is between 50 and 60 years old, three are between 60 and 70 years old, and one is over 80 years old.

While just 3.3% of all tests by Pacific County residents have come back with a positive result since the beginning of the pandemic, 7.5% of all tests reported in the county since Sept. 1 have come back positive, according to data from the Washington State Health Department’s covid-19 dashboard.

Statewide as of Sept. 13, 2,006 covid-19 deaths have been reported in Washington since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as 7,098 hospitalizations, up from 1,953 deaths and 6,913 hospitalizations a week ago. Three deaths and eight hospitalizations are attributed to Pacific County. There have been 80,138 reported cases of covid-19 in the state, up from 77,545 cases a week ago.

District to decide on in-person instruction

On Sept. 16, the Ocean Beach School District will be conducting its first ‘metric check’ of the school year, to determine whether it can resume any type of in-person learning. The district has been in a remote-only model since the beginning of the school year on Sept. 8.

As of Sept. 13, Pacific County’s case rate is 37 new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week rolling average, putting the county in the moderate-risk category when it comes to having students physically return to school, according to state recommendations released in August. For moderate-risk counties, the state recommends distance learning for middle and high schools, with possible in-person learning options for elementary schools.

At a Sept. 9 special school board meeting, Superintendent Amy Huntley told board members that she has been in contact with county health officials and was informed that most of the newly reported cases in September, at the time, were located in the northern half of the county.

Huntley and board members came to a consensus at the meeting that the district’s priority is to try and return younger students at Long Beach Elementary and Ocean Park Elementary to school in a hybrid manner as soon as possible, while continuing to work toward bringing back older students in a safe and practical way.

If the district does decide to resume any kind of in-person instruction following its Sept. 16 metric check, the earliest day students will return to school is the coming Monday, Sept. 21.

The Observer will have more about the district’s plans on its website when information becomes available.

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