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Health - Public Health News

Posted on: February 4, 2022

Whatcom County COVID-19 Update for 2/4/22

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.

Updates

COVID-19 cases are still at an extremely high level. While signs of a downward trend continued this week, the number of new cases right now is still about 3.5 times higher than they were during the Delta surge, and our hospital and health care system are still under strain. 

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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.

FDA gives Moderna vaccine full approval. On January 31, the FDA announced approval of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (The FDA gave full approval of the Pfizer vaccine in August 2021.) The CDC announced its recommendation of the Moderna vaccine earlier today. So far 542,000,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States alone. If you’ve been waiting for a fully approved vaccine, now’s the time to get your shot!

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). If you are symptomatic or a close contact, you can also call Northwest Laboratory at 360-543-6904 to schedule an appointment.
  • 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. If you take an at-home rapid COVID-19 test and get a positive result, please report your result on our online form. This helps us track the spread of COVID-19 through the community. You can also report your positive result through the WA Notify app, which is available for both Apple and Android phones.

COVID-19 data highlights (week of 1/23 - 1/29)

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. In addition, DOH 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 is continuing to see a decline in confirmed and probable cases in the most recent reporting week ending 1/29, after cresting around Jan 13. The total for the week is currently 2,305, pending expected data corrections. Detected infections are still at a higher level than any previous surge during the pandemic.
  • The 7-day case rate was 1,012 per 100,000 people. 
  • Among the sub-county areas, the 7-day case rates ranged from 759 per 100,000 in the Mt Baker area to 1,404 per 100,000 in the Blaine area. 
  • The 7-day case rates 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 56 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 during this reporting week. Due to data processing errors, vaccination status of these patients is unavailable.

According to the Feb. 2 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 7 times higher for unvaccinated residents. For those 65 years and older, the hospitalization rate was 8 times higher among unvaccinated residents. 

Deaths. Since our last data report, there were seven deaths due to COVID-19:

  • Two unvaccinated males, 70-79 years
  • Unvaccinated male, 80-89 years
  • Vaccinated female, 90-99 years
  • Three vaccinated males, 90-99 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. 31, 74% of all Whatcom County residents have started vaccination and 67% have finished. 6,427 children between the ages of 5 and 11 (about 36% of that age group) have received at least one dose. 78,508 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:

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

 

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