In these updates, we will include news and updates, summarize publicly-available COVID-19 and vaccination data, and provide some context and details to help you understand what’s happening with COVID-19 in our community.
Each update will cover data for the week ending the previous Saturday. You can find the weekly data report, plus additional data, on our data page, www.whatcomcounty.us/coviddata.
Remember “flatten the curve?” Back at the beginning of the pandemic, we were all asked to flatten the curve so that our hospitals wouldn’t get overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases. We all started wearing masks, curbside pickup became a thing, and we postponed our social gatherings. And in Whatcom County at least, we were able to protect our hospital and its staff.
Now the Omicron variant has driven our cases far past any number seen before. And our hospital is past 100% capacity. What we feared at the beginning of the pandemic is now a reality.
We are so fortunate that the vaccines are keeping nearly all vaccinated people out of the hospital. Without them, the load on our hospital would be unimaginable. While 3 out of 4 Whatcom residents have gotten at least one dose of vaccine, there are still about 51,000 residents who haven’t. Contrary to what you might hear about other parts of the country, there is no sign that cases have leveled off in Whatcom.
Please go to the emergency room only when you have a serious or life-threatening injury or illness.
And please get vaccinated, or get boosted if you’re eligible. When you’re around others, wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask--preferably a KN95, KF94, or 3-ply surgical mask. And postpone social gatherings.
Our health care system, our schools, and our essential infrastructure need your help to stay functional. Please do your part.
COVID-19 testing. Testing is in high demand right now. Appointments at the community testing site are fully booked out for several days, and it’s challenging to find rapid at-home tests. Here’s what you can do if you need a COVID-19 test:
If you have symptoms, assume you have COVID-19 and isolate at home. Follow the new isolation guidelines. Don’t gather or visit with other people. Even if it isn’t COVID-19, you don’t want to make your friends or family sick. The flu is also going around.
Reminder: the ER is not a COVID-19 testing site. Do not go there if you are only looking for a test or have mild symptoms.
For most workplaces, you do not need a negative test before returning to work after having COVID-19. Workplaces such as schools, health care facilities, congregate living settings, and others may have other isolation and quarantine guidance.
Please get tested through medical providers as much as possible. There are also several pharmacies who recently started offering rapid PCR testing. See our updated list of testing providers for details.
If you’re having COVID-19 symptoms or you’ve been told you were in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, call us at 360-778-6075 (Monday through Friday except for holidays, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., no voicemail). We’ll help schedule a PCR test for you, but be aware that you may not get an appointment until after your 5-day isolation period is over due to testing demand. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More (and free!) rapid tests are coming! Stay tuned for more details next week.
COVID-19 data highlights (week of 1/2 - 1/8)
This update focuses on COVID-19 data through the previous Saturday. We have to wait for complete data from a variety of sources, so our data reports will always cover the previous week. You can find the weekly data report, plus additional data, on our data page.
Cases. The weekly total of COVID-19 cases has more than doubled again. These are only the cases that we know about; more residents are turning to at-home tests and most of these results are unreported.
3,169 new cases were reported in the week of 1/2 -1/8.
The 7-day case rate was 1,389 per 100,000 people, more than twice as high as the previous reporting week.
Among the sub-county areas, the 7-day case rates all rose sharply, ranging from 890 per 100,000 in the Mt Baker area to 1,316 per 100,000 in the Ferndale area. The case rates for 5- to 17-year-olds in all sub-areas (except Nooksack Valley) were record highs.
The 7-day case rates rapidly increased for all age groups, with the highest rate at 2,056 for ages 18-24. Cases in school-age children made up 17% of the total cases for the current reporting week.
Hospitalizations. There were 45 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 during this reporting week, more than double the previous week’s total. 29, or 64%, were unvaccinated.
According to the Jan. 12 DOH report on COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths by Vaccination Status, hospitalization rates are many times higher among unvaccinated residents. For Washington residents 12 – 64 years old, the hospitalization rate per 100,000 is 8 to 11 times higher for unvaccinated residents. For those 65 years and older, the hospitalization rate was 11 times higher among unvaccinated residents.
Deaths. Since our last data report, there were six deaths due to COVID-19:
One unvaccinated female, 30-39 years
Two unvaccinated males, 70-79 years
One vaccinated female, 70-79 years
One vaccinated male, 60-69 years
One vaccinated male, 70-79 years
According to the Jan. 12 DOH report mentioned above, unvaccinated individuals 65 and older are 15 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals 65 and older.
Data. As of Jan. 8, 69.7% of all Whatcom County residents have started vaccination and 64% have finished. As of Jan. 9, about 31% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received at least one dose, and 63,667 booster doses have been administered to Whatcom residents.
Pop-ups. Adolescents, teens and adults can get vaccinated for COVID-19 at most places you’d go for a flu vaccine, like grocery stores, pharmacies and health care clinics. In addition to these, there’s a number of pop-up clinics offering COVID-19 vaccines, some of which offer vaccines to 5- to 11-year-olds.
A more complete list of vaccine providers in Whatcom County can be found at VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov.
Upcoming pop-up clinics:
Old Lynden Middle School Cafeteria, 516 Main St, Lynden
Saturday, Jan. 15 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Make an appointment for ages 5-11: https://bit.ly/3qdKynt (walk-ins welcome)
Make an appointment for ages 12 and older: https://bit.ly/3K1kljy (limited capacity for walk-ins)
Harmony Elementary School, 5060 Sand Rd, Bellingham
Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2:30-6:30 p.m.
Ages served: 5 and older
Make an appointment for ages 5-11, walk-ins welcome.
Make an appointment for ages 12+, appointments recommended.
East Whatcom Regional Resource Center, 8251 Kendall Rd, Maple Falls
Thursday, Jan. 20, 3-7 p.m.
Make an appointment for ages 5-11, walk-ins welcome.
Other clinics may be announced during the week. For an updated list, please visit whatcomcounty.us/covidvaccine.
Pediatric vaccination opportunities. In addition to many of the clinics listed above, we maintain an up-to-date list of local pediatric vaccine providers on our vaccine page. You can also find vaccine providers that serve 5- to 11-year-olds at VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov.