These updates will include COVID-19 news, 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.
Currently, our updates and external data reports cover two weeks of data, ending the previous Saturday. Unless there are new COVID-19 developments such as a surge, we will be moving to monthly updates and reports in April. You can find the data report, plus additional data, at www.whatcomcounty.us/coviddata.
COVID-19 cases have begun to level off over the month of March. The total number of new confirmed and probable cases for the week ending 3/26 was 127 with a 7-day average case count of 18. The number of new cases remained constant for the past three weeks ending on 3/26. The lifting of the mask mandate in WA State that occurred on March 11th is one factor that may affect infection rates in the county.
Masking and COVID measures in schools. While the mask mandate was lifted for many settings, including K-12 schools, on March 12, remember that masks remain a tool for schools to require for people recovering from COVID-19 or during outbreaks.
Change can bring anxiety, especially for kids. Even the end of the mask mandate can bring stress. During the pandemic, children have experienced plenty and they look to parents and other grownups in their lives for cues. Set a good example. Like an umbrella or warm coat that we bring out in bad weather, masks will be a part of their lives when infections are on the rise.
CDC community level. CDC COVID-19 community levels are updated on Thursday evenings. Like checking air quality during wildfire season, it’s a good idea to regularly check community levels to see if you should adjust or postpone activities.
Therapeutics. Are you at risk of severe COVID-19 and just tested positive? Treatments such as monoclonal antibodies and oral antiviral medications can help you avoid severe illness and hospitalization.
To be effective, treatment needs to start within the first few days after a COVID-19 diagnosis. If you have symptoms, it’s important to test quickly--especially if you are at high risk. If you have COVID-19, talk to a health care provider about available treatment options.
COVID-19 data highlights (weeks of 3/13 - 3/26)
This update focuses on COVID-19 data for the two-week period ending the previous Saturday. We have to wait for complete data from a variety of sources, so our data reports will always cover previous weeks. You can find the data report, plus additional data, on our data page.
Cases. As has been the case for several weeks, many residents are turning to at-home tests and most of these results are underreported. WCHD will continue to monitor confirmed and probable COVID-19 activity, paying close attention to potential impacts from the lifting of the mask mandate.
- COVID-19 confirmed and probable case counts in Whatcom County are leveling off during the second half of March.
- The 7-day average daily case count decreased to 18 cases per day. The last time confirmed and probable case counts were measured at this level was in mid-July 2021 toward the beginning of the Delta variant surge.
- The 7-day rate for COVID-19 hospitalizations by specimen date among Whatcom County residents was confirmed at 2.2 per 100k for the week ending 3/26.
- COVID-19 hospitalizations remain highest among individuals 65 and older.
- Vaccine and booster dose information is now available by age group on the state’s DOH dashboard.
Hospitalizations. COVID-19 Hospitalizations continue to decrease. 50 percent of those hospitalized were aged 65 years and older.
Deaths. Our data team is looking at other measures to report deaths that better represent the distribution of these events across the population and take into account the additional vaccinations that are now common. We plan to begin this new reporting in April. Since our last data report, there were two deaths due to COVID-19:
- Female, 70-79 years
- Female, 80-89 years
Vaccination Progress and Clinics
Second booster doses. People age 50 and older and certain immunocompromised individuals can now get a second booster dose of an mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine at least four months after receiving their initial booster dose. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) updated its booster dose recommendations following guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.
DOH’s updated booster dose recommendations are as follows:
- Everyone 12 and older should receive a booster dose five months after completing their two-dose vaccine series of Pfizer or Moderna, or two months after receiving the single-shot Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.
- Everyone 50 and older can receive a second booster dose four months after receiving their first booster dose.
- Individuals 12 and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised can receive a second booster dose four months after receiving their first booster dose.
- Those 18 and older who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of the J&J vaccine four months ago can receive a second booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
Where to get vaccinated. 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. Some of these providers also vaccinate 5- to 11-year-olds. There are also 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
Lynden School District Offices (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.