Diggers scoured the surf in search of clams last fall. The Covid-19 outbreak has led Pacific County to cancel further clam digs, starting with one that had been set to begin March 20.

SOUTH BEND — Reversing a decision earlier this week by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to allow a four-day clam dig to proceed starting March 20, Pacific County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Steven Krager on March 19 ordered cancellation of all clam digs in the county until further notice in order to limit spread of COVID-19 virus.

Later Thursday, WDFW pulled the plug on the current clam dig.

While some residents expressed support for going ahead with clam digging, the weight of public opinion in recent days was predominantly that the season should be suspended to limit the number of visitors from heavily infected Puget Sound counties.

"The Deputy Health Officer has determined that this step is now necessary in Pacific County in light of the increasing scope and severity of the threat that COVID-19 poses," according to a press release from the Pacific County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). "Although no cases are confirmed in Pacific County at this time, the increasing instances of community spread in Washington State have influenced the decision."

The county order doesn't ban access to public beaches. "However, as a reminder, Pacific County recommends that people at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 stay home as much as possible," the EOC said. "This includes individuals over age 60, and/or those with serious, chronic medical conditions (diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or those who have weakened immune systems, etc.)."

Summary of the deputy health officer’s order

The Deputy Health Officer issued an Order prohibiting clam digging in Pacific County to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 due to: (a) the increased likelihood that gatherings will attract people from a broad geographic area; (b) the prolonged time period in which large numbers of people are in close proximity; (c) the difficulty in tracing exposure when large numbers of people attend a single event; (d) the inability to ensure that attendees follow adequate hygienic and social distancing practices; and (e) the potential impact on community resources including food, pharmaceutical supplies, and healthcare resources.

For the purposes of the order, “COVID-19 risk mitigation measures” include all of the following:

(a) The space in which a permissible gathering is held must accommodate social distancing by allowing all attendees to stand or sit at least six feet from any other attendee; and

(b) Proper hand hygiene and sanitation material must be readily available to all persons at all times, including soap and water, tissues, and waste receptacles (if soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used).

Pacific County recommendations

Anyone who has questions about whether their condition puts them at risk for COVID-19 should contact their primary healthcare provider or an appropriate medical practitioner.

Pacific County also recommends everyone take steps to keep themselves and others healthy, including:

• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

• Cover coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.

• Stay home and away from others when sick.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.

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