The global pandemic tested county preparedness, structures, and processes for dealing with disasters, and an opportunity exists to reflect on the County's response to the public emergency, to evaluate the systems in place to respond to the event, and identify opportunities to improve and be even better prepared for the next global emergency.
On March 10, 2020, Whatcom County Council (as the Health Board) voted to recommend activation of Whatcom Unified Command (WUC) in order to provide an integrated, coordinated, multi-jurisdictional response to the threat of COVID-19 locally. The WUC was deactivated effective August 1, 2021, and this review is to cover the time period of WUC operations.
Whatcom County Council adopted Ordinance 2021-045 on July 13, 2021, establishing an independent commission to review our community's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ordinance was amended twice to refine details on scope and timeline (Ordinance 2021-064 and Ordinance 2022-019). County Council discussed a detailed project scope on September 28, 2021 (AB2021-525) and adopted a budget amendment to fund the project on October 12, 2021 (AB2021-547). On January 11, 2022, Whatcom County Council authorized a contract with BERK Consulting to complete the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Review project (AB2022-009).
Overall, the review aims to identify opportunities for better emergency preparedness, which includes the development of plans, resources, and capabilities to manage and recover from the effects of a variety of potential future emergencies of a regional, national, or global scale.
Phase 1 - Data Gathering: January - April 2022
Project kick-off meeting - January 27, 2022
Council Discussion on project work plan - February 8, 2022 (AB2022-085)
Report to County Council on project progress - March 8, 2022 (AB2022-141)
Presentation to County Council on Phase 1 Report - April 26, 2022 (AB2022-103)
Phase 2 - Preliminary Recommendations: May - June 2022
Draft Report (June 15, 2022)
Presentation to Council on Phase 2 - June 21, 2022 (AB2022-104)
County Council discussion on Phase 2 Recommendations - July 12, 2022 (AB2022-394)
Phase 3 - Final Report: August - September 2022
County Council received a final report on September 13, 2022 (AB2022-105) and passed a motion to forward the report to the Executive and Sheriff. The consultant team provided a memo summarizing changes from the previous draft report and gave a presentation.