Healthcare Providers

This page last updated at 9:50 a.m. on Sunday, March 22, 2020.

For more general information, see our Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

Provider Alerts

See links below on most recent guidance for healthcare providers from the Whatcom County Health Department

Provider Health Alert COVID-19 UpdateMarch 28, 2020
Provider Health Alert COVID-19 UpdateMarch 22, 2020
Provider Health Alert COVID-19 Update
March 17, 2020
Provider Health Alert COVID-19 UpdateMarch 7, 2020

COVID-19 Surveillance and Reporting

  • All lab-confirmed COVID-19 infections are reported to the Washington Disease Reporting System whether tested through public health or commercial labs. Whatcom County Health Department then receives and reports the test results.

  • We ask that you notify us of patients being tested who are hospitalized or have contact with a confirmed case, and not wait for the lab confirmation. 

  • You can leave us a non-urgent confidential report on our 24-hour Communicable Disease Report Line, 360-778-6150. 

  • If DOH issues more specific notification criteria and requirements, we will update our guidance.

Provider consultation with Whatcom County Health Department Communicable Disease staff is available at (360) 778-6100 during hours of 8:30 am-4:30 pm. For consultation after hours, call (360) 778-6100 and follow directions to connect with the Health Department’s Answering Service.

Testing Recommendations

  • Due to anticipated increases in volume as this disease spreads in our community, we ask providers to continue to follow current DOH priorities for testing, explained in COVID-19 Testing Information for Healthcare Providers.

  • Healthcare providers may test any patient with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath).

  • There are currently no restrictions on who can be tested for COVID-19 and commercial testing is becoming widely available. 

  • Testing is recommended for the following patients with COVID-19 symptoms:

    • Those who are hospitalized with severe lower respiratory illness.

    • Those most likely to have been infected (close contacts of confirmed cases).

    • Those who work in critical occupations or who could transmit tho those most at risk of complications (healthcare and public safety workers). 

    • Those who work in critical infrastructure occupations (grocery stores, pharmacies, public utilities, etc.)

    • Those who live or work in congregate settings (long-term care facilities, shelters)

Testing Options

Testing capacity remains limited in our region.

  • The Whatcom County Health Department has expanded a drive-through testing site for COVID-19. We are accepting referrals from local providers, on a scheduled basis.  We ask that providers first determine who qualifies for testing before sending referrals to us. The process for ordering testing is explained in this document.  Do not instruct patients to call the Health Department 

  • Generally, the Whatcom County Health Department is recommending that healthcare providers send COVID-19 specimens to the University of Washington Virology Lab or other commercial labs. 

  • The Washington State Public Health Laboratories will accept specimens meeting specific criteria directly from clinicians as outlined in this document

  • If you are unable to test a patient, please call the Whatcom County Health Department at 360-671-6100 to discuss options for referring and to see if the patient meets our priorities. Do not send patients directly to the Health Department without calling first.

Infection Control