Respiratory Virus Data Dashboards

Page Last reviewed: February 9, 2024 at 10:40 a.m.

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This page shows respiratory virus data for the North Sound Region and Whatcom County. The North Sound Region includes Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom Counties. Respiratory viruses monitored include SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), Influenza (flu), and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). 

Respiratory virus activity typically begins to increase in the fall and continues through the following winter. Therefore, we define the respiratory virus season as starting in early October and ending a year later. The 2023-24 respiratory illness season started October 1, 2023.

Respiratory Virus Transmission Monitoring

The table below shows whether COVID-19, flu, or RSV activity is above an established North Sound Regional threshold, determined by emergency department data for the entire region. The thresholds are 0.3% for RSV, 1.0% for influenza, and 3.0% for SARS-CoV-2. When virus activity is above threshold it is considered that there is significant spread in the area. We consider transmission to be low when all viruses have been below their thresholds for a minimum of two weeks. 

Some Whatcom County healthcare facilities will require masking when activity is above threshold. This table is intended as a tool for healthcare providers.


Data Dashboards

The dashboards will update weekly on Thursdays and will reflect data for the previous week.

Respiratory Virus Emergency Department Visits

Washington State tracks the proportion of emergency department visits that include a respiratory virus diagnosis. We use these data to understand the level of respiratory virus activity in our community. This dashboard includes data for the North Sound Region. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) provides and maintains this interactive dashboard. To learn more about this dashboard, visit the DOH Respiratory Data Dashboard page or look the Data Notes Section of this page.

Laboratory Tests

We track the percent of positive respiratory virus lab tests voluntarily submitted by specific Whatcom County healthcare entities. These data help us further understand respiratory virus activity in our community. To learn more about this dashboard, see the Data Notes Section of this page.

Influenza-Like Illness

We track the proportion of local emergency department visits with an influenza-like illness (ILI). Public health entities define ILI as fever (temperature of 100°F or greater) and a cough and/or a sore throat. Lab tests are not always performed to confirm the respiratory virus causing the illness. These data include all Whatcom County emergency department visits for respiratory illnesses that fall into ILI. To learn more about this dashboard, see the Data Notes Section of this page.

Outbreaks at Long-Term Care Facilities

Whatcom County long-term care (LTC) facilities must report all respiratory virus outbreaks to our Communicable Disease and Epidemiology division. 

An LTC facility must submit a report if there is a sudden increase in acute respiratory illness, or if at least one resident tests positive for the flu. 

We require that LTC facilities submit an outbreak report if at least two residents are probable or confirmed positive for COVID-19. LTC Facilities must also submit outbreak report if two or more staff are experiencing symptoms or received a positive COVID-19 test with at least one probable or confirmed positive among residents. There should be a connection of exposure and transmission within the workplace. 

To learn more about this dashboard, see the Data Notes Section of this page.

Additional Resources

COVID-19

Flu

RSV

For Healthcare Providers

Data Notes

We provide notes to help you understand the dashboard data on this page. All data are preliminary and may change as we update data.

Respiratory Virus Emergency Department Visits

  • The data for emergency department visits are obtained from the Washington State Department of Health Rapid Information Health Network (RHINO) program. All non-federal emergency departments and their associated inpatient units report health care encounter data in near real-time to RHINO. The data are stored on the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) BioSense ESSENCE platform.
  • We report emergency department visits at North Sound Region hospitals, which includes both county and non-county residents seen in Island, San Juan, Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom counties.
  • Data values are calculated by summing the number of weekly emergency department (ED) visits with a diagnosis of Covid-19, influenza, or RSV and dividing by the total number of weekly ED visits, for five counties in Northwest Washington: Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, Island, and Snohomish. Epidemic threshold values were calculated using the Moving Epidemic Method applied to historical data from the five-county region. The thresholds for influenza and RSV were calculated from seasons 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020, and 2022-2023. The threshold for Covid-19 was calculated based on a multi-wave model using data from 2020 to 2023.

Laboratory Tests

  • Respiratory virus laboratory test results are reported by Family Care Network, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, PeaceHealth Medical Group Pediatric Clinic, Sea Mar, and Unity Care NW directly to Whatcom County Health and Community Services. 

Influenza-Like Illness

  • The data for emergency department visits are obtained from the Washington State Department of Health Rapid Information Health Network (RHINO) program. All non-federal emergency departments and their associated inpatient units report health care encounter data in near real-time to RHINO. 
  • For Influenza- Like Illness, we report data for visits occurring in Whatcom County specifically. 

Outbreaks at Long-term Care Facilities

  • We consider long-term care facilities healthcare settings and include nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, adult family homes, assisted living facilities, enhanced services facilities, and intermediate care facilities.
  • A health congregate setting such as a Long-Term Care (LTC) facility is considered to be experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak when:
    • There are two (2) or more probable or confirmed cases among residents with epi-linkage OR
    • There are two (2) or more suspect, probable or confirmed positive cases in healthcare personnel AND one (1) or more probable or confirmed case among residents, with epi-linkage within the facility, AND no other more likely sources of exposure for at least 1 of the cases.
  • A health congregate setting such as an LTC facility is considered to be experiencing an influenza outbreak when: 
    • There is a sudden increase in acute febrile respiratory illness over the normal background rate OR 
    • There is one (1) or more confirmed influenza case among residents.

Contact

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected].