In these updates, we will include news and updates, summarize publicly-available COVID-19 and vaccination data, and provide some context and details to help you understand what’s happening with COVID-19 in our community.
Each update will cover data for the week ending the previous Saturday. You can find the weekly data report, plus additional data, on our data page at www.whatcomcounty.us/coviddata. To watch video updates, available in both English and Spanish, visit our Facebook page or YouTube channel.
Omicron variant. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, news broke of a new coronavirus variant, which has been named Omicron. It was first detected in the U.S. on Dec. 1 and has now been found in several states. While it hasn’t been detected yet in Washington, it is reasonable to assume that it’s already here or will be shortly. Now is the time to get vaccinated or to get your booster shot. For more info, please see our news flash.
Boosters. This week, the CDC expanded their recommendation for COVID-19 boosters: all adults 18 and over should get one. See the Vaccination Progress section for more info.
WA Verify. Lost your vaccination card? The state has created a new system that makes it easy to find your digital vaccine record. Visit waverify.org.
COVID-19 data highlights (week of 11/21 - 11/27)
This update focuses on COVID-19 data through the previous Saturday. We have to wait for complete data from a variety of sources, so our data reports will always cover the previous week. You can find the weekly data report, plus additional data, on our data page.
Please note: The regional flooding and school closures in Whatcom County has had an impact on COVID-19 testing availability and access. This impact, combined with testing site closures over the Thanksgiving holiday, is likely contributing to overall lower case counts and rates over the past two weeks. As more data becomes available in the coming days and weeks, we will be able to conclude whether or not the current levels reflect a temporary trend.
301 new cases were reported in the week. The 7-day average count for confirmed and probable cases was 43 per day.
The 14-day case rate was 235 per 100,000 people.
Among the sub-county areas, 7-day case rates range from 85 per 100,000 in the Ferndale area to 270 per 100,000 in the Lynden area. The relative case rates in the Blaine and Nooksack Valley areas saw an increase during the most recent reporting week but remain under 200 per 100,000. A sharp decline was observed in confirmed cases in the Lynden area, but additional data over the coming days will indicate whether this is sustained or a temporary trend due to reduced testing during the most recent two weeks.
Cases in school-age children made up 24% of the total cases for the current reporting week. The case rates among ages 5-17 and 25-44 remain higher than other age groups. The case rate for the 5-17 age group remained higher in Lynden and Blaine, at more than twice the county average for this age group.
Hospitalizations. New hospitalizations due to COVID-19 remain high among Whatcom County residents, with a total of 20. More unvaccinated residents (16 out of 20, or 80%) continue to need hospitalization for COVID-19 symptoms than vaccinated residents.
According to the Dec. 1 DOH report on COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths by Vaccination Status, hospitalization rates are many times higher among unvaccinated residents. For Washington residents 12 – 64 years old, the hospitalization rate per 100,000 is 17 to 18 times higher for unvaccinated residents. For those 65 years and older, the hospitalization rate was 10 times higher among unvaccinated residents.
Deaths. During this reporting period, there were four deaths due to COVID-19:
One unvaccinated male, 50-59 years
One unvaccinated male, 80-89 years
One vaccinated male, 70-79 years
One vaccinated male, 80-89 years
According to the Dec. 1 DOH report mentioned above, unvaccinated individuals 65 and older are 9 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals 65 and older.
Vaccination Progress and Clinics
Data. As of Nov. 29, 68.1% of all Whatcom County residents have started vaccination and 62.8% have finished. In the recently eligible 5-11 age group, 3,577 have received at least one dose, which is about 20% of this age group!
Boosters. If you’re already fully vaccinated, you can further improve your chances of resisting infection from COVID-19 and all its variants by getting a booster.
Everyone who’s 18 or older can get a booster now, and your booster dose can be any brand, even if it’s a different brand from your original series. Just make sure enough time has passed since you finished your first series of shots.
If you were vaccinated with Moderna or Pfizer, you need to wait 6 months before getting a booster.
If you were vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson, you need to wait 2 months before getting a booster.
It’s especially important to get a booster before gathering for the holidays, if you can. You’ll better protect yourself, your family and your friends from COVID-19 if you do.
Pop-ups. Adolescents, teens and adults can get vaccinated for COVID-19 at most places you’d go for a flu vaccine, like grocery stores, pharmacies and health care clinics. In addition to these, there’s a number of pop-up clinics offering COVID-19 vaccines to anyone who’s 12 or older.
East Whatcom Regional Resource Center
Old Lynden Middle School cafeteria
Pediatric vaccination opportunities. Demand is still high for pediatric COVID-19 vaccines and appointments are more limited. We maintain an up-to-date list of local pediatric vaccine providers on our vaccine page. You can also find vaccine providers that serve 5-11 year-olds at VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov. We’ll announce other vaccine opportunities for this age group as those opportunities become available.
This week’s Facebook posts
The Health Department posts regularly on Facebook. Here’s a list of this week’s posts.