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Health - Public Health News

Posted on: December 17, 2021

Whatcom County COVID-19 Update for 12/17/21

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. Due to holiday schedules, there will be no video updates this week, and this will also be the last weekly update of the year. Both the written and video updates will resume in January. 


Updates

Omicron variant. On Dec. 10, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the first case of the new Omicron variant in Whatcom County. The person who tested positive was a vaccinated man in his 30s who had traveled domestically. Because this variant is so new, there are still many unknowns about how transmissible this variant is, whether it causes less severe disease, and how much protection is provided by previous infections or vaccines. For info on what’s known so far, please visit the CDC page on Omicron.


360-778-6190 isn’t spam, it’s our contact tracing team. Sometimes the phone number our contact tracers use to contact people who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 gets marked as “spam/scam likely.” If we need to reach you, the number we’ll use to call you is ☎360-778-6190. If you’ve missed a call from this number, call us back right away! 


Unfortunately, some scammers do pretend to be public health officials. When we call, we do not ask for personal identifying information like your Social Security Number or bank account number. If anyone asks you for this information, don’t give it to them. Learn more about how to identify and avoid legitimate spam/scam callers posing as health department officials: https://bit.ly/3lC9eTB

COVID-19 data highlights (week of 12/5 - 12/11)

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


Cases. COVID-19 cases have fallen back to pre-Thanksgiving levels.


  • 302 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 255 per 100,000 people. 

  • Among the sub-county areas, the range of 7-day case rates ranges from 37 per 100,000 in the Bellingham area to 278 per 100,000 in the Meridian area. 

  • Cases in school-age children made up 19% of the total cases for the current reporting week. The 7-day case rates for all age groups declined or remained level.


Hospitalizations. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 declined this week, with a total of 20. More unvaccinated residents (17 out of 20, or 85%) continue to need hospitalization for COVID-19 symptoms than vaccinated residents. 

According to the December 15 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 23 times higher for unvaccinated residents. For those 65 years and older, the hospitalization rate was 11 times higher among unvaccinated residents. 

Deaths. During this reporting period, there were four deaths due to COVID-19:

  • Two unvaccinated males, 40-49 years

  • Two vaccinated males, 80-89 years

According to the December 15 DOH report mentioned above, unvaccinated individuals 65 and older are 13 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals 65 and older. 

Vaccination Progress and Clinics

Data. As of December 13, 68.7% of all Whatcom County residents have started vaccination, 63.4% have finished, and about 25% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received at least one dose. As of December 11, 46,709 booster doses have been administered to Whatcom residents.

Johnson & Johnson. The CDC now recommends getting the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine instead of Johnson & Johnson if possible due to the rare but heightened threat of blood clots associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still available for those who want it, and the risk of blood clots is rare. The CDC reaffirms that any vaccine is better than remaining unvaccinated, and that the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine outweigh its risks. COVID-19 infections are all too common and cause much more serious illness if you aren’t vaccinated.  

Pop-ups. This Saturday, Dec. 18, walk-ins will be accepted at the following clinics:

  • Bellingham

    • Where: Rite Aid, 222 Telegraph Road

    • When: Saturday, Dec. 18, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    • Who: Everyone ages 5 and older.

    • How: This clinic is walk-in only.

  • Everson

    • Where: Everson Elementary, 216 Everson Goshen Road

    • When: Saturday, Dec. 18, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    • Who: Everyone ages 5 and older.

    • How: Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are also available. To make an appointment, call 360-778-6075. Appointments can also be reserved online for ages 5-11 and for ages 12 and older.

  • Lynden

    • Where: Old Lynden Middle School cafeteria, 516 Main Street

    • When: Saturday, Dec. 18, 3 to 7 p.m.

    • Who: Ages 5-11 only.

    • How: To make an appointment, call 360-778-6075 or register online. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Due to the upcoming Christmas holiday, there will be no pop-up clinics next week. Many places still offer COVID-19 vaccines. To find a clinic near you, go to VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov.

Pediatric vaccination opportunities. In addition to many of the clinics listed above, 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.


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