COVID-19 FAQs

Page updated: Wednesday, May 13, 2020 

COVID-19 in Whatcom County

What is the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order?

On April 2, Governor Jay Inslee extended the Stay Home—Stay Healthy order until May 4. The order requires every Washingtonian to stay at home, except for people who are:

  • Doing an essential activity, like shopping for groceries or going to a medical appointment. See what’s opened and closed.
  • Going to work at an essential business.
  • Getting takeout food. (Food deliveries are also ok.)
  • Going outside for walks and exercise, as long as people keep 6 feet apart from others.

What does it mean to stay home? To find out more, visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov.

What is the difference between Stay Home, Stay Healthy and quarantine?

Stay Home, Stay Healthy is a way for all of us to reduce the general risk to ourselves and to others. It means everyone is: 

  • Staying home as much as possible.  
  • Limiting time away from home to essential trips only.  
  • Staying 6 feet away from others and wearing a cloth mask in public when you must go out. 

Quarantine is for individuals who we know have had direct exposure to the virus by being a close contact of someone with confirmed COVID-19. Someone self-quarantining stays home and limits interactions with others, including those in the home. This is important because a person can be contagious before symptoms begin. For more information about the difference between Stay Home, Stay Healthy, self-quarantine, and self-isolation see our fact sheet

I have limited access to outdoor space where I live.  Why are you telling people to limit the amount of time they’re spending in parks?

 Many city and county parks remain open to allow people who lack private outdoor space to enjoy the outdoors. It is important to keep open spaces safe places during COVID-19. Parks remain open at this time so we can stay active, but not hang out. By limiting the amount of time we spend in our open spaces we increase safe access for everyone.  If you do visit a park, practice physical distancing. 

I see people and/or businesses violating the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. How can I report this behavior?

For complaints about non-food businesses that violate Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, fill out the Washington State Coronavirus Reponse online form.

To report illegal activity associated with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, for example, illegal fishing, use the online crime reporting tools from the Bellingham Police Department or the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Only call 911 for emergency situations. 

What’s the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) situation in Whatcom County? Is there enough PPE for medical workers?

PPE has been in short supply across the United States. To help get PPE to those who need it, Whatcom Unified Command uses a set of priority criteria to distribute PPE. The criteria are based on emerging response needs and guidelines from the Washington State Department of Health

PPE requests are prioritized to make sure that our health care workers, emergency response personnel, long term health care facilities with confirmed cases of COVID-19, and other health care facilities with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have their requests filled first. As those requests are completed, all other resource requests are filled as supplies allow. The priority criteria can change often since they are based on emerging response needs and the supply received by Whatcom County Unified Command.

Antibody Testing

What is an antibody test, and how could it be used during the COVID-19 pandemic?

An antibody test, also known as a serological test, looks for antibodies in the blood that tell us if a person has been exposed to a virus or bacteria. Your immune system makes antibodies when you are fighting off viruses and bacteria.

In the future, antibody testing may be able to reliably tell us several important things:

  • If someone who has previously been infected with COVID-19 is immune from future COVID-19 illness.
  • How long immunity from COVID-19 lasts.
  • Whether or not someone had COVID-19 in the past. 

However, scientists need to study antibody testing and COVID-19 immunity further to answer some important questions:

  • How reliable and accurate are antibody tests? There are dozens of antibody tests being marketed in the United States that haven’t been fully validated yet. Some tests are more accurate than others, and some can’t be compared to each other. We simply don’t know at this point that those tests are giving valid information.

  • What kind of long-term immunity do people have to COVID-19 after an infection? There isn’t yet enough scientific information to tell us how long immunity lasts in people who have been infected. With many diseases, immunity can wane over time for various reasons. We need to study this more before we can say that an antibody test proves immunity to COVID-19 in the long run.

 Right now, antibody tests can not be used to confirm whether or not someone has COVID-19. We are continuing to monitor this new science with hope that antibody testing will be another tool to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Are COVID-19 antibody tests available in Whatcom County?

Some providers are offering COVID-19 antibody testing. Currently, COVID-19 antibody tests do not tell people that they won’t get sick again. We need a better understanding about what kind of long-term immunity people have to COVID-19. There isn’t yet enough scientific information to tell us how long immunity lasts in people who have already been infected. With many diseases, immunity can wane over time for various reasons. 

Scientists need to study this more before we can know if an antibody test is actually proof of immunity to COVID-19 in the long run. There is still a lot to learn about what these tests really tell us.

Should I get an antibody test?

At this time, we do not recommend antibody testing as a reliable way to check for immunity or recovery from COVID-19. No one should draw definite conclusions about their protection from COVID-19 based on currently available antibody tests. 

While antibody testing holds a lot of potential, it doesn’t yet give us the kind of reliable information we need. Given the inaccuracies in the available tests and the uncertainty about what the test results mean for immunity, the test results are not yet a good source of information for us to base our public health decisions on. More work is needed on this kind of testing in the coming weeks and months. 

The Virus and Its Symptoms

What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new virus called SARS-CoV-2. Most people with COVID-19 will have mild disease but some people will get sicker and may need to be hospitalized.

How severe is COVID-19?

The vast majority of people with novel coronavirus infection do not require medical care or hospitalization. A much smaller percentage of people get severely ill with respiratory problems like pneumonia. People most at risk for severe illness are:

  • People older than 65 years
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Pregnant people

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of coronavirus may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Can people spread the virus before they develop symptoms?

Often, with most respiratory viruses, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest), but for COVID-19, there can be spread by individuals who are not exhibiting typical symptoms.

Treatment

At this time, there is no treatment for COVID-19.

  • We understand that many community members are worried about trying to find ways to treat or prevent COVID-19. It’s important to know that there is currently no treatment of COVID-19. As a community, the most effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home and to limit contact with others.
    • The best prevention steps for individuals are to stay home when you’re sick, cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, wash your hands often with soap and water, and clean frequently touched surfaces and objects. Getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids, eating healthy foods, and managing your stress may help you prevent getting COVID-19 and recover from it if you do.
  • Never make medicine from household products. Ingesting household products not intended for human consumption is harmful and can be deadly.
  • Always follow guidance from a medical professional. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and call your doctor. If you are having an emergency, call 911 and let them know you have symptoms of COVID-19.
    • The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
      • Fever
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
      • Chills
      • Repeated shaking with chills
      • Muscle aches
      • Headache
      • Sore throat
      • New loss of taste or smell
    • More information on what to do if you are sick is available from the CDC.

Exposure & Illness

I’m afraid I might have been exposed, what should I do?

You generally need to be in close contact with a sick person to get infected. Close contact includes:  

  • Living in the same household as a sick person with COVID-19,  
  • Caring for a sick person with COVID-19,  
  • Being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for about 10 minutes, or
  • Being in direct contact with secretions from a sick person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.).

Close contact with someone includes the 48 hours before a person started showing symptoms. If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 you should self-quarantine and monitor your symptoms.  To learn more about how to handle potential exposure, guidance from the Washington State Department of Health can be found here

What should I do if I was in close contact with someone with COVID-19 while they were ill but I am not sick?

You should stay home and monitor your health for fever, cough and shortness of breath for 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. You should not go to work or school, and should avoid all public places for 14 days.

  • Our disease investigators are reaching out to anyone who was likely to be in close contact with any confirmed case.
  • If you were in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) with someone with lab-confirmed COVID-19 during their illness, follow the DOH guidelines (PDF).
  • If you have not been contacted by public health, we suggest you take the standard precautions that are recommended to all community members, including:
    • Wash your hands frequently.
    • Don’t touch your nose, mouth or eyes.
    • Sanitize frequently touched surfaces that might be touched by others with a sanitizer effective against coronaviruses.
    • Fully cover any coughs or sneezes so that no droplets escape.
    • Avoid large crowds and gatherings, or being within 6 feet of people for longer than 10 minutes.
    • Take particular care to protect people 60 years and older, people with underlying conditions and pregnant people. 
    • Preserve our health care resources for those who most need them by staying home if symptoms are mild and can be managed at home.
    • If sick, stay home for 10 days or until 3 days after symptoms have gone away, whichever is longer (minimum of 10 days).

What should I do if I am an essential worker and I had close contact with someone with COVID-19 while they were ill but I am not sick?

If you are an essential worker you can continue to work, provided you don’t have symptoms and the following steps are taken:

  • Pre-screen: have temperature and symptom check daily before starting work.
  • Regular self-monitoring for symptoms under the employer’s occupational health program.
  • Wear a mask: use at all times at work.
  • Social distance: maintain 6 feet of separation, or more, from other people as duties permit.
  • Disinfect and clean work spaces frequently.
  • Do not share headsets,  phones, food or drinks.
  • Clean and disinfect ‘high touch’ areas, like door handles and light switches, frequently. 

Follow these steps for 14 days from the time you were exposed.  If you develop symptoms, notify your employer and leave work immediately.  For more information see guidance from the CDC and the Washington State Department of Health. Essential workers include state & local law enforcement; 911 call center employees; hazardous material responders; janitorial and other custodial staff; and workers in food and agriculture, critical manufacturing, informational technology, transportation, energy and government facilities. 

What should I do if I’m sick?

If you are sick and have symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, and fever, stay home except to get medical care.

  • Call your healthcare provider and tell them you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Your healthcare provider will decide if you need to be tested.
  • 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 ten days since the start of symptoms.
  • If you have severe symptoms and need medical care, call ahead to your regular provider before going into a clinic or other health care facility.
  • Do not go 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 911.

If you develop any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest.
  • New confusion or inability to arouse.
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives. 

What should I do if I was in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and get sick?

If you get sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath (even if your symptoms are very mild), you likely have COVID-19. 

  • You should isolate yourself at home and away from other people. 
  • Call your healthcare provider and tell them you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. Your healthcare provider will decide if you need to be tested.

If you have conditions that may increase your risk for a serious infection (e.g. age 60 years or older, are pregnant, or have medical conditions) contact your healthcare provider’s office and tell them that you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. They may want to monitor your health more closely or test you for COVID-19.

What should I do to keep my infection from spreading to my family and other people in the community? 

Stay home except to get medical care. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis. 

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.  

  • People: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.  
  • Animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while sick. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick; if you must care for your pet, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a face mask, if possible. 

What should I do if I am sick with COVID-19 and am pregnant or caring for a baby?

So far, pregnant people do not appear to be at greater risk for illness and complications from COVID-19 than other adults. Your healthcare provider will provide specific guidance for labor, delivery, and caring for your baby if you are sick. For additional information, the Washington State Department of Health has published guidance for Pregnancy, Birth, and Caring for Your Baby with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 (also in Spanish). For more resources, visit our Topics page

Guidelines for Returning to Work after Illness or Exposure

How do I know if I was exposed?

I was sick with COVID-19, and I’m a critical infrastructure worker. When can I go back to work?

You may return to work when:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever- reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); AND,
  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • Individuals with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue home isolation when at least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and have had no subsequent illness.

I was exposed to someone with COVID-19, and I am a critical infrastructure worker. What should I do? 

You may continue to work as long as you remain well and without symptoms, and if you take the following measures:

  • Pre-screen: have temperature and symptom check daily before starting work
  • Wear a mask: use at all times at work
  • Social distance: as much as possible, remain 6 feet from coworkers
  • Disinfect and clean work spaces
  • Don’t share headsets, phones, food or drinks

If you start to experience symptoms, you should go home immediately and contact your healthcare provider.

I tested positive for COVID-19, and I’m a healthcare worker. When can I go back to work?

You may return to work when:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever- reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); AND,
  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • Individuals with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue home isolation when at least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and have had no subsequent illness.

You should also:

  • Wear a facemask at all times while in the healthcare facility until all symptoms are completely resolved or until 14 days after illness onset, whichever is longer.
  • Be restricted from contact with severely immunocompromised patients (e.g., transplant, hematology-oncology) until all symptoms are completely resolved or until 14 days after illness onset, whichever is longer

Some healthcare workers may experience prolonged cough as a result of respiratory viral infection, which may continue after isolation has ended. Those workers should wear a face mask until their cough resolves or their health returns to normal.

I was exposed to someone with COVID-19, and I am a healthcare worker. What should I do? 

You should actively monitor for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection, but can return to work provided you:

  • Adhere to cough etiquette and hand hygiene
  • Wear a facemask at all times while in the healthcare facility until 14-days after the date of exposure.

If you start to experience symptoms, you should go home immediately and contact your healthcare provider.

Some employers may require a negative test to return to work if you have tested positive.  Check with your employer to see if they have this requirement.

Insurance Coverage and Costs

I’m worried about costs, how much does testing cost if I do/don’t have insurance?

If you do not have insurance:

  • The Washington Health Benefits Exchange has a special enrollment period right now. You can visit the Health Benefits Exchange website or call 1-855-923-4633; TTY: 1-855-627-9604 for more information.
  • Call Unity Care NW’s Enrollment Office at 360-788-4633 to see what insurance you may qualify for. 

If you do have insurance: 

  • While not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19, the good news is that testing is free. Insurance companies are required to waive co-pays and deductibles for anyone requiring testing for COVID-19. More information can be found on the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s website.
  • Most health insurance plans will cover testing and treatment for medically-necessary services related to COVID-19. The Office of Insurance Commissioner has ordered all health plans regulated by this office to waive copays and deductibles for people requiring testing (doh.wa.gov) for COVID-19. If you are concerned about whether or not you should be tested, read the guidance from the Department of Health and call your providers first. Copays and deductibles will still apply if you need treatment.

Taking Care of People Experiencing Homelessness

What is Whatcom County doing to support people who are without a home?

  • On March 16, Whatcom County received $905,821 in funding from the Washington State Department of Commerce to be used for emergency housing necessary to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. These funds are for things such as:
    • Creating isolation and quarantine housing
    • Creating additional shelter capacity to replace shelter capacity lost when social distancing was increased
    • Increasing sanitation in existing homeless housing
    • Other costs associated with addressing the public health needs of people experiencing homelessness or displaced from their former housing due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
    • Most of these funds are now committed to ensuring that the relocation of the Lighthouse Mission’s Drop-In Center (DIC) and the development of new isolation and quarantine facilities do not interfere with their ability to safely provide crucial emergency shelter services for their guests.
  • On March 20, the Drop-In Center moved to Bellingham High School to allow for social distancing that will help protect DIC users from infection. Bellingham High School (BHS) is larger than the DIC. At BHS, sleeping spaces can be placed six feet apart and daytime socializing can be six feet apart. Guests are provided with three meals each day, and additional security has been added to keep them safe while staying at the high school.
  • Whatcom Unified Command is working to identify facilities that will enable isolation and quarantine for those experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak. Whatcom Unified Command is also working to find appropriate personnel to oversee and provide services, including medical oversight of those in isolation. A site on Byron Avenue was recently opened in early May to host people who need either isolation or quarantine sites but do not have appropriate homes to use.
  • Additional funding has been added for the use of motel rooms to provide shelter for families that would otherwise be sleeping in their cars or outside.
  • Additional funding has been provided to non-profit housing agencies that will enable them to increase the amount of rental assistance they can provide during this crisis and prevent more households from becoming homeless.
  • Many non-profit housing agencies have expanded their services as part of the response to our community’s urgent housing and support needs. If you are able to support these agencies, contributions can be made directly through their websites.

Wearing a Cloth Face Covering (Cloth Mask)

When should I wear a cloth face covering?

Starting on May 22, 2020, everyone in Whatcom County is directed to wear a face covering while in most public settings, and when you are within six feet of someone who does not live with you. Read more about the face covering directive. While this isn’t a requirement, it is an additional step of protection that you should take to keep from spreading the virus to others. Wearing cloth face coverings will not prevent the spread of COVID-19 without other protective measures like staying 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you and washing your hands with soap frequently.

Who should not wear a cloth face covering?

Read the section on who should and should not wear a face covering on our face covering directive page. See more information provided by the CDC.

How do I use a cloth face covering correctly?

Read the How to Properly Wear a Face Covering section of our webpage.

We’ve put together a Face Covering Use Tipsheet:

You can learn more about making and using cloth masks from our cloth face covering page and the CDC.

Why should I wear a face covering if I’m feeling healthy?

See our Why Wear a Face Covering section.

Does wearing a cloth face covering protect me from infection?

Face coverings are an extra level of protection, but will not protect you by themselves. Wearing cloth face coverings will not prevent the spread of COVID-19 without these other protective measures:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Avoid being around people who are sick.
  • Stay at home as much as possible. If you go out in public, stay 6 feet away from others as much as possible.

Handwashing and social distancing are still our most effective, proven strategies to limit the spread of disease in our community. Wearing a cloth mask adds to those measures. It is not a substitute for them. Although the evidence is limited about cloth face coverings protecting you from becoming infected, cloth masks will help slow the spread to others if you are infected and have no symptoms.

How do I clean a cloth face covering?

Wash your hands immediately after putting on or taking off the covering.  You must wash cloth face coverings frequently with detergent and hot water. Ideally, wash it after each use. Throw away any cloth face covering that no longer covers your mouth and nose, cannot stay on your face, or has holes. 

What kind of cloth face covering should I wear?

Non-medical cloth face coverings are pieces of fabric that cover the nose and mouth and can be made at home. You can make these coverings with common household items. See this video from the CDC to learn how.  You can also use a scarf, bandana, or another piece of fabric if you do not have a cloth mask.

Should I wear a cloth face covering when I’m outside exercising?

When you exercise outside consider how far away you can stay from other people.  Keep in mind that the heavier you are breathing, the farther away you should be from others.  Wear a cloth face covering while exercising if you can’t stay six feet away from others. If it’s not possible to wear a face covering when exercising, do more to keep your distance.   

Should I wear a surgical mask?

This guidance is for cloth face coverings only. Do not use surgical masks or other medical grade masks such as N95 respirators because these medical supplies are currently in short supply and need to be saved for healthcare workers who are caring for patients with COVID-19.

To learn more about this recommendation, when you should wear a cloth face covering, and how to care for it, visit the Washington State Department of Health Guidance on Cloth Face Coverings.

Disease Investigation and Reporting

Investigating where and how people could have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 is an important function of public health in managing this outbreak.

We are working to identify and advise those people who have had close contact with confirmed cases.

  • Disease investigations include talking with a lab-confirmed case about:
    • Where they were during their infectious period.
    • Who they may have had contact with for more than 10 minutes in a space of less than 6 feet.

Once we know this information, we reach out to each person who is a close contact to:

  • Let them know of their potential exposure to the disease.
  • Give them instructions about how to prevent infecting others.
  • Explain what they can do to take care of themselves.

We also know that there are people infected with COVID-19 in our community who will not be tested, so people in our community will come in contact with COVID-19 and not be aware of it.

To find out more about COVID-19 Case Investigation see our fact sheet.

I know I had contact with someone with a positive case. Why haven’t I been contacted?

Identifying close contacts and informing them to stay home and monitor for symptoms is an important public health response. We make these contacts as soon as possible.

  • You are only considered a close contact if you have been with a confirmed case within six feet for more than 10 minutes.
  • If you were a close contact of a confirmed case, you can expect a call or other communication from one of our staff. They will talk with you and tell you what to do next. If you have questions, you can call us at 360-778-6100.

If you were a close contact of a confirmed case while they were at the hospital, you can expect to have someone from the hospital contact you. The hospital infection prevention team does the contact investigation work for hospital employees, patients and visitors. They are able to use electronic medical records to see who was in the waiting room at the same time as the confirmed case.

What details do you share about a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 in our community?

COVID-19 is most commonly transmitted when people have been in close contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19. This means spending at least 10 minutes within 6 feet of that person. Because of this, we concentrate our case investigation activities on those people that had close contact with a confirmed case for a prolonged period of time. We work diligently to contact the individuals and the organizations that meet the close contact definition and advise them on how best to protect themselves and the community.

Why aren’t you reporting the numbers of patients who have recovered?

We get this question a lot. The main reasons are:

  • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 are not required to report to the health department or to their healthcare provider when they have recovered. 
  • It’s likely that many people are recovering without even realizing that they’ve even been infected. Some people who become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 show little or no symptoms and therefore are not tested in the first place. Since we can’t know how many people have been infected, we can’t know how many have recovered, and any data we give on recovery rates would be inaccurate. 

Ways to limit the spread of COVID-19

How can I keep my children safe and healthy while schools are closed?

Though the Health Department recommends that gatherings be avoided when possible, these guidelines for children and youth while schools are closed will help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

What can I do to help reduce COVID-19 from spreading to my family and other people in the community?

If you are not experiencing symptoms and have not been exposed to a confirmed case:

  • You should restrict activities outside your home and practice social distancing. 
    • Avoid public transportation (e.g., bus,  taxi, ride share).
    • Maintain distance of approximately 6 feet, or 2 meters, from others.
  • Do not go to work unless you are an essential worker and are healthy.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can, and immediately clean your hands as described below.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
    • If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items such as dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water and dried before use by others.
  • Prevent the spread of COVID-19 by making a plan to clean and disinfect your home or business regularly.  

    • Clean and disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces daily using an EPA-approved cleaner to kill germs. Some examples of high-touch surfaces are counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use these guidelines from the CDC to know what to clean, what to disinfect, and how often. 

    • Check out our factsheet for guidance and information 

When is it safe to discontinue home isolation after illness?

For individuals with symptoms who are confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 and are directed to care for themselves at home, discontinue home isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery you no longer have a fever and are no longer using fever-reducing medications and your respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved;
  • AND At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • Individuals with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue home isolation when at least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and have had no subsequent illness.

Additional information for your household members, intimate partners, and caregivers at http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html.

Children and Youth

Will there be summer camps this year? 

The Whatcom County Health Department is currently discussing summer camps and COVID-19’s impacts on these programs. The Health Department is following State Department of Health guidelines and the governor’s phased approach to opening the state. This is a rapidly changing situation, and we anticipate that requirements will be modified as we work through the different phases. Health and safety orders are subject to change and that events may need to be cancelled or rescheduled. 

We encourage camp directors to be flexible and creative in their planning, and to consider programs of different lengths and sizes, or even a virtual camp experience. Some camps have already decided not to be open this summer. We understand frustration caused by the inability to make concrete plans, but it is important that we continue to follow public health recommendations to work through the phases as quickly and safely as possible.