Individuals, Families & Households

Last updated: 11:45 a.m, Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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

Information and Recommendations May Change

Information continues to change frequently.  Check this website and our Facebook page often.  Sign up to receive Public Health News updates. Create a profile and select Health – Public Health News under the News Flash section with the option to receive email or text message updates.

Stay Home, Stay Healthy Executive Order

On May 1, Governor Inslee announced the extension of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order through May 31, 2020, and outlined the phased “Safe Start” approach Washington will take for resuming recreational, social, and business activities. At this time, all people are instructed to continue to stay home unless conducting essential activities. This is the best tool we currently have to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep rates of infection low. This decision is a proven strategy that will save lives. The phased approach to reopening the economy allows us to move forward carefully, balancing the health and economic needs of our state. Find out more on the Washington State COVID-19 website.

Guidance for People at Higher Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness

For those who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, we recommend leaving home only to seek medical attention after speaking with your healthcare provider to determine that no other options are available.

As reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people at higher risk include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • 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 and the Centers for Disease Control. Starting on May 22, 2020, everyone in Whatcom County is directed to wear a face covering in most public settings. Read more about the Directive to Wear Face Coverings.

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.

Guidance for Individuals to Prevent COVID-19 Infection

Personal prevention habits are effective for preventing COVID-19 infection.  These are important action steps everyone should take to protect their health. Additionally, for other community-wide actions to be most effective, people must 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 (try to maintain a distance of at least six feet).
  • 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 healthcare provider before visiting their office.
  • Do not leave your home unless you are seeking medical help, pursuing essential activities like grocery shopping, exercising, or working in an “essential” occupation. And if you have to leave home, stay at least six feet away from others.
  • Wear a mask, or cloth face covering if you must be in public. Starting on May 22, 2020, everyone in Whatcom County is directed to wear a face covering while in any indoor or outdoor public space where you may be within six feet of someone who does not live with youRead more about the Face Covering Directive.
  • If you have a caregiver, they should also take special precautions. Information for Families Caring for Loved Ones is available from the Washington State Department of Health’s Health Education page.

What to Do if You Are Sick or Have Been Exposed 

See our Frequently Asked Questions page for information on what to do if you are sick with COVID-19 or think you may have been exposed to the virus.