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, whatcomcounty.us/coviddata.
COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Whatcom County. While this is encouraging news, we know that there are still many people who are concerned about COVID-19 because of their own health issues, their children who are too young to be vaccinated, or their loved ones who have compromised immune systems. Please remember that people have different priorities and concerns about changes in mask guidance, and be respectful and kind to others during this time.
Multiple layers of protection (boosters and vaccines, high-quality masks such as N95s, KN95s, or KF94s, and avoiding crowds and poorly-ventilated spaces) are still the best strategy to protect you and your loved ones from severe cases of COVID-19.
Data discrepancies. DOH informed us today that the data maps from external sources, including the CDC and the New York Times, are not showing the same data that they have for Washington state. For instance, Whatcom County is recording many more than 5 cases a day! DOH is working with the CDC to identify and fix the discrepancies.CDC mask guidance. Today the CDC released new guidance for masking and other prevention measures based on a new risk assessment tool, “COVID-19 community levels.” The levels are based on data about new hospital admissions for COVID-19, percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and new cases.
Our county’s current community level is not quite accurate, due to the data discrepancies mentioned above. Also keep in mind that the new guidance doesn’t change how the virus is spreading and affecting our hospitals and health care systems in Washington. While cases and hospitalizations have thankfully declined from their Omicron peaks, we are still seeing numbers comparable to the peak of the Delta surge. The health department continues to encourage people to comply with the state indoor mask mandate until it is lifted on March 21.
FEMA vaccine teams! This is the last weekend with the FEMA mobile vaccination unit. The team will be vaccinating through Monday, Feb. 28. For these last few days, they’ve added a few more sites. See the Vaccination Update section below for the details.
The clinics serve everyone ages 5 and up. Pfizer (pediatric and adult), Moderna (regular doses and boosters), and J&J are all available. $50 gift cards are available for people getting their first or second dose.
Thank you to FEMA, DOH, the Washington Emergency Management Division, PeaceHealth St. Joseph, and Bellingham Technical College for helping us vaccinate more Whatcom County residents!Rapid tests. If you take an at-home rapid COVID-19 test and get a positive result, please report your result to the State COVID-19 Information Hotline. Dial 1-800-525-0127, then press #. Language assistance is available. This helps us track the spread of COVID-19 through the community. You can also anonymously notify your close contacts through WA Notify, which is available for both Apple and Android phones.
There is no data report this week due to the holiday weekend. In addition, to allow for more time for data reporting and cleaning, the Whatcom County Health Department's Health Information and Assessment team is revamping our data reporting schedule and will also be adding more context for our numbers. The team has been concerned for a while that reporting deaths by vaccination status without the context of population numbers is causing some people to draw flawed conclusions. To take the most extreme example, if 100% of a population is fully vaccinated, then 100% of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths will be in fully vaccinated people, but it would be incorrect to conclude that the vaccines don't work based on that information.
We will be providing more thorough explanations of data in future reports.
Where to get vaccinated. 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:
FEMA at the Health Education Center, 3333 Squalicum Pkwy, Bellingham
All clinics are 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Boosters, first and second doses for ages 5 and up
$50 gift card for getting your 1st or 2nd dose
Saturday, Feb. 26: Make an appointment
Sunday, Feb. 27: Make an appointment
Monday, Feb. 28: Make an appointment
Nooksack Valley Middle School, 404 W. Columbia St, Nooksack
Saturday, Feb. 26, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Pediatric (5-11) Registration
Adult (12+) Registration
East Whatcom Regional Resource Center, 8251 Kendall Rd, Maple Falls
Thursday, March 3, 4 - 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 5, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Registration links will be posted next week
Shuksan Middle School, 2717 Alderwood Ave, Bellingham
Saturday, March 5, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
$25 gift card for everyone receiving a vaccination, courtesy of the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation
Registration for 5 and up
Other clinics may be announced during the week. For an updated list, please visit whatcomcounty.us/covidvaccine.