FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 10, 2021
Media Contact: Jennifer Moon, Public Information Officer
Whatcom County Health Department
Whatcom County Health Department Releases
COVID-19 Community Health Impact Assessment
BELLINGHAM, WA -- Today, the Whatcom County Health Department released its COVID-19 Community Health Impact Assessment. The study updates the Whatcom County Health Department’s previous Community Health Assessment, conducted in 2018. It includes an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data assessing how the COVID-19 pandemic affected specific community health outcomes and indicators in Whatcom County.
As an update, the scope of the assessment is limited to the priority areas identified through the County’s community health improvement process, with a focus on those issues affecting children and families. Other important aspects of the pandemic, including impacts on older adults, food insecurity and family violence, as well as disease burden, are not addressed in the limited scope of this study. The five priority areas examined in the report are:
- Kindergarten readiness, as an indicator of child and family well-being
- Child care, as an indicator of employment and economic opportunity
- Housing security, the ability to retain safe and stable housing as a health determinant
- Homelessness, crisis intervention for unhoused individuals and families as a health determinant
- Behavioral health, including mental health outcomes and substance use behavior
The report identifies not only the effects of the pandemic in each of these areas, but also the systemic impacts that cut across all five of the areas studied. A key finding is that the pandemic put significant stress on the systems that were already known to be broken, further exposing and increasing health disparities, and heightening awareness of racial inequities and injustices for many Whatcom County residents.
“With this report, we can confirm now what for many has already been apparent: the COVID-19 pandemic had significant effects on many Whatcom County residents that made pre-existing challenges worse,” said Erika Lautenbach, director of the Whatcom County Health Department. “The assessment provides the data and analysis that policymakers and community partners can use to guide our recovery and make progress on the systemic challenges we’ve identified.”
This report provides a snapshot of conditions at the time of its research and publication. As rising case rates demonstrate, the pandemic has not ended, and circumstances will continue to evolve.
A presentation of the report will be made at today’s Whatcom County Council Committee of the Whole meeting at 2:05 p.m. To attend this virtual meeting, go to www.whatcomcounty.us/joinvirtualcouncil for instructions or call (360) 778-5010. In addition to the presentation to the Whatcom County Council, multiple presentations across Whatcom County are planned for the coming weeks.
The full COVID-19 Community Health Impact Assessment report can be viewed here.
This information is also available as a PDF.