SOUTH BEND — A state of emergency was declared Feb. 29 in response to covid-19 in Washington state. On Oct. 10, 224 days later, Pacific County surpassed 100 confirmed cases of the virus that has infected some 38 million people worldwide and killed more than 1 million — and counting.

The Pacific County Health and Human Services Department reported 14 newly confirmed cases in a span of just 24 hours on Oct. 9 and 10. The eight cases announced on Oct. 9 were the most reported by the county in a single day since the pandemic began, and the 14 cases were the most reported in back-to-back days.

Two more cases were reported on Oct. 12, bringing the county’s total case count to 107, up from 91 from the previous week. One of the cases is a male between 10 and 20 years old and is linked to a previously reported positive case, and the other case is a male between 50 and 60 years old and is linked to out-of-county travel.

Of the cases announced on Oct. 9, three were individuals between 70 and 80 years old whose cases are linked to a small celebratory social gathering, the department said. A case of a female between 60 and 70 years old is linked to an out-of-county workplace exposure, and another female case between 20 and 30 years old is linked to an in-county workplace exposure. A case of a male between 40 and 50 years old is linked to a small group sporting event, while another 40 to 50 year old male’s exposure is currently unknown. The remaining case was that of a boy between 1 and 10 years old, and is linked to a previously reported positive case.

Five of the six positive cases announced by the department on Oct. 10 are male individuals linked to previously reported positive cases, although it is unknown as of press time on Oct. 13 whether all five of the cases are linked to a singular previously reported positive case, or multiple positive cases. Three of the five men are between 20 and 30 years old, one is between 40 and 50 years old, and the other is between 10 and 20 years old. The sixth case is a woman between 40 and 50 years old, and is possibly linked to an in-county workplace exposure.

There are currently 20 active cases being monitored by public health nurses in Pacific County, including three probable cases awaiting confirmation. With the county’s entrance into the 100-case club, only eight of Washington’s 39 counties still have fewer than 100 confirmed cases, including Wahkiakum, which has the fewest number of cases in the state with eight.

Statewide as of Oct. 10, 93,035 cases were confirmed and the death toll was 2,190.

OBSD continues reopening

The recent surge in cases have not affected Ocean Beach School District’s plan — which is currently in-progress — to offer at least some in-person learning at all grade levels, according to Superintendent Amy Huntley.

As of Oct. 12, Pacific County’s case rate is 97 new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week rolling average, according to county health department officials. The rate puts the county firmly in the high-risk category — more than 75 new cases per 100,000 people — when it comes to students and staff physically returning to school, according to state recommendations.

As it stands, students at Long Beach Elementary have returned to in-person instruction five days per week. Students at Ocean Park Elementary returned in a hybrid model last week, with students on-campus two days a week and learning remotely the rest of the week. This week, students at Hilltop are also returning to the classroom in a hybrid model for two days a week. Next week, in-person instruction will be made available for students at Ilwaco High School.

While no changes to OBSD’s reopening approach have been made as of yet, Huntley said that could change if cases continue to increase. She said none of the newly reported cases as of Oct. 12 have any close connections to the district’s schools.

Inslee issues new guidance

Gov. Jay Inslee announced updates to Washington’s Safe Start reopening plan on Oct. 6, relaxing restrictions in several industries.

The modifications to the guidance includes:

• For restaurants, the alcohol cutoff has been extended from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. For counties in Phase 3, including Pacific County, the maximum table size at a restaurant has been increased to eight individuals;

• For libraries, the guidance is now aligned with that of museums, allowing for 50% of the building’s maximum occupancy in Phase 3;

• For real estate, open houses are now allowed, with occupancy being determined by the gathering size permitted in the county where the open house is taking place;

• For movie theaters, 50% of the maximum occupancy is permitted in Phase 3, with six feet distance being required between households at all time, as well as face masks;

• For wedding receptions, the total number of attendees has been extended to 50 people in Phase 3 counties.

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