Individuals, Families & Households

Last updated: 2:00 pm, Friday, April 3, 2020

This is the latest guidance for individuals, families and households to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Whatcom County.

Recommendations may change

Information continues to change frequently. Please check back regularly to get the latest updates.

We know that people are worried about this new disease, and how to respond to it. We are evaluating this situation daily and working to communicate effectively as changes occur. 

Check our website and Facebook page often. Sign up to receive notifications from us, by navigating to News Flash, then selecting the "Health-Public Health News" option to receive email or text message updates. 

Stay Home, Stay Healthy Executive Order

On Thursday, April 2, Governor Inslee extended the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Executive Order for another four weeks. This is the best tool we currently have to slow the spread of COVID-19. This decision is a proven strategy that will save lives. Find out more on the Washington State COVID-19 website

Guidance for people at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness

All people have been instructed to stay home unless conducting essential activities, such as certain types of work, grocery shopping, and seeking medical attention after speaking with their medical providers. For those who are at higher risk, we recommend leaving home only to seek medical attention after speaking with medical providers and when there are no other options available. As reported by the CDC, people at higher risk include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Other high-risk conditions could include:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have serious heart conditions
    • People who have weakened immune systems, including those who have undergone cancer treatment
    • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40)
    • People with certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk

More detailed guidance for people at higher risk is available from the Washington State Department of Health.

Caregivers of children with underlying health conditions should consult with healthcare providers about whether their children should stay home. Anyone who has questions about whether their condition puts them at risk for severe illness resulting from novel coronavirus should consult with their healthcare providers.

Prevention Measures for Individuals

Personal prevention habits are effective for preventing COVID-19 infection. We continue to repeat this because these are important action steps everyone can take to protect their health. Additionally, for other, community-wide actions to be most effective, people must also continue to practice these habits.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • If you are sick, contact your medical provider before visiting their office.
  • Do not leave your home unless you are seeking medical help, pursuing essential activities like grocery shopping, or exercising at least six feet away from others.
  • Wear a mask, or cloth face covering if you must be in public. Guidance on mask use was updated by Whatcom County Public Health Officials on April 4, 2020.

What to do if you are sick

If you are sick, stay home except to get medical care.

  • If you are sick and have mild symptoms, stay home and take care of yourself as you would for a cold or flu. Stay home away from others until 72 hours after the fever is gone and symptoms are better AND it has been seven days since the start of symptoms.

If your symptoms get worse, seek medical attention.

  • Call ahead to your regular provider before going into a clinic or other health care facility.
  • Do not go directly to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
  • If you need emergency medical care, call 9-1-1.

These resources from the Washington State Department of Health have answers about possible exposures: