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, www.whatcomcounty.us/coviddata.
COVID-19 cases are still at an extremely high level. While we are cautiously optimistic that we’re seeing the start of a downward trend, the number of new cases right now is still about five times higher than they were during the Delta surge, and our hospital and health care system are still under enormous strain.
How you can help. Please go to the emergency room only when you have a serious or life-threatening injury or illness. Don’t go to the ER if you’re looking for a COVID-19 test or if you have mild symptoms.
Please get vaccinated, or get boosted if you’re eligible. When you’re around others, wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask--preferably a KN95, KF94, or 3-ply surgical mask. And postpone social gatherings.
Our health care system, our schools, and our essential infrastructure need your help to stay functional. Please do your part.
COVID-19 testing. Some good news about local testing: our testing partner, Northwest Laboratory, is now able to test more people! It should be easier for more people to get tested in a shorter time frame.
- The new slots are limited to people with COVID-19 symptoms or who are close contacts of a confirmed case, and can be scheduled by calling 360-778-6075 (Monday through Friday except for holidays, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., no voicemail).
- Reminder: the ER is not a COVID-19 testing site. Do not go there if you are only looking for a test or have mild symptoms.
- Please get tested through medical providers as much as possible.
- There are also several pharmacies (Sumas Drug, Nooksack Valley Drug, and Hoagland Pharmacy) who recently started offering rapid PCR testing. See our updated list of testing providers for details.
Rapid tests. Lots of news this week, including how to get free tests!
- Rapid at-home tests are now available through a number of Whatcom County locations, including Bellingham Fire Station 1 (street address is 1800 Broadway, Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.; please park on the street and NOT in front of the fire station doors) and food banks (please confirm with individual food banks). These tests are provided by the federal government through a partnership with Unity Care NW.
- Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four free at-home COVID-19 tests. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days. Order here: covidtests.gov or call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489).
- Washington state residents can order four or five free at-home tests. (You will receive either one set of five tests or two sets of two tests.) The state has ordered 3.5 million tests that will come in over the next several weeks, so even though inventory has already sold out, more will come in every week. Order here: sayyescovidhometest.org or call 1-800-525-0127.
- Buying a test from a pharmacy? If you have health insurance, most insurers will now reimburse you for up to 8 at-home tests per month, for each person on your plan.
- If you test positive, please report your result on our online form. This helps us track the spread of COVID-19 through the community.
COVID-19 data highlights (week of 1/16 - 1/22)
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. There is some uncertainty about this week’s exact numbers for a couple of reasons. As has been the case for several weeks, many residents are turning to at-home tests and most of these results are unreported. Please also note that DOH has notified us that due to a processing error, cases for this reporting week include a significant number of duplicates. They are working to correct the data.
- Whatcom County began to see a decline in confirmed and probable cases in the most recent reporting week ending 1/22, after cresting around Jan 13. The total for the week is currently 2,974, pending expected data corrections. Despite a decline in new case counts, another high mark was observed following the recent holiday where a single-day case count reached 638 on Jan. 18. This underscores that detected infections are still at a higher level than any previous surge during the pandemic.
- The 7-day case rate was 1,305 per 100,000 people, compared to 1,389 from the previous reporting week.
- Among the sub-county areas, the 7-day case rates increased, ranging from 579 per 100,000 in the Mt Baker area to 1,379 per 100,000 in the Blaine area.
- The 7-day case rates declined but remained high for all age groups under 65, with the highest rate at 1,800 for ages 5-17. Cases in school-age children were 26% of the total cases for the current reporting week.
Hospitalizations. There were 51 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 during this reporting week, still high but a welcome decrease from the previous week’s record of 63. Of these patients, 34, or two-thirds, were unvaccinated.
According to the Jan. 19 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 5 to 8 times higher for unvaccinated residents. For those 65 years and older, the hospitalization rate was 7 times higher among unvaccinated residents.
Deaths. Since our last data report, there were six deaths due to COVID-19:
- Two unvaccinated females, 70-79 years
- Unvaccinated female, 80-89 years
- Unvaccinated female, 90-99 years
- Vaccinated female, 70-79 years
- Vaccinated male, 70-79 years
According to the Jan. 19 DOH report mentioned above, unvaccinated individuals 65 and older are 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals 65 and older.
Vaccination Progress and Clinics
Data. As of Jan. 22, 73% of all Whatcom County residents have started vaccination and 66% have finished. 6,129 children between the ages of 5 and 11 (about 34% of that age group) have received at least one dose. 75,185 booster doses have been administered to Whatcom residents; about a third of those have been given to people 65 and older.
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, some of which offer vaccines to 5- to 11-year-olds.
A more complete list of vaccine providers in Whatcom County can be found at VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov.
Upcoming pop-up clinics:
- Kendall Elementary School, 7547 Kendall Rd, Maple Falls
- Wednesday, Feb. 2, 3-6:30 p.m.
- Serving ages 5 & up
- Registration links will be posted next week
- East Whatcom Regional Resource Center, 8251 Kendall Rd, Maple Falls
- Thursday, Feb. 3, 3-7 p.m.
- Serving ages 5 & up
- Registration links will be posted next week
- Old Lynden Middle School Cafeteria, 516 Main St, Lynden
- Nooksack Valley Middle School, 404 W. Columbia St, Nooksack
Other clinics may be announced during the week. For an updated list, please visit whatcomcounty.us/covidvaccine.
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- to 11-year-olds at VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov.