Individuals, Families & Households

Last updated: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 28, 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.

Washington’s Safe Start Plan to Reopening

On May 29, Governor Inslee announced that the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order would be replaced with a Safe Start, Stay Healthy plan for county-by-county phased reopening.  Under this new plan, Whatcom County was approved to enter Phase 2 on June 5. Reopening is a dialing back of restrictions that gives individuals and businesses time to adjust and make sure we can all stay safe. For more information on what moving into Phase 2 means, read our June 5 news flash.

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

Those who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness should take extra precautions to prevent exposure to the virus.The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) define people at higher risk as:

  • 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

Detailed guidance for people at higher risk is available from the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control

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.
  • Wear a mask or cloth face covering in public spaces. Starting June 26, everyone in Washington is required to wear a cloth face covering in public when it is not possible to stay at least least six feet away from others. Visit our masks and face coverings page to learn more.
  • 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.
  • Follow the Safe Start guidelines to limit your exposure as we slowly reopen.

Assessing Your Risk

Each of us assess risks differently. When it comes to COVID-19, the risks you take affect you personally, and they also affect your community. Each decision you make about what activities to participate requires thinking through risk factors.  Read our June 25 news flash, How safe is it? A guide to COVID-19 risk, for guidance on assessing your risk. 

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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.