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Health - Public Health News

Posted on: June 12, 2020

Gatherings in May lead to COVID-19 Outbreaks

We are investigating a series of COVID-19 outbreaks connected to large recreational and social gatherings held in Whatcom County in late May. Some attendees of large gatherings and parties hosted at private residences have since been diagnosed with COVID-19. Our investigations have determined that close contacts of party-goers have also become infected with the illness. We have notified the Washington State Department of Health of these events, as required. It is not yet known if these outbreaks will impact our ability to remain in Phase 2, or how many additional people have been infected by party-goers. Our staff is continuing to learn more about the outbreaks as additional investigations and tests are conducted.

Large Gatherings and COVID-19 Spread

While outdoor gatherings may be safer alternatives to indoor gatherings, large groups of people provide opportunities for the virus to spread more easily. This is especially true when physical distancing is not observed, face coverings are not utilized, and food or drinks are shared. The investigations also highlight the challenge presented by those who have not yet developed symptoms or will not develop symptoms and may be spreading the virus without knowing. These events underscore the importance of following current guidelines for Phase 2, which include:

  • Limiting gatherings to 5 people or fewer from outside of your household per week, 
  • Maintaining physical distance, and 
  • Wearing a face covering when in public.

More information about Phase 2 guidelines can be found in this info sheet

While it may often seem like our individual actions do not affect others, they do. Our own personal actions have an impact that affects businesses, neighbors, friends, and loved ones. Stopping COVID-19, and our community’s continued movement toward reopening is a team sport. Everyone must participate if we want to be successful. 

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