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 at www.whatcomcounty.us/coviddata. Due to staffing changes, video updates are on hold; we hope to resume them in early February.
COVID-19 testing. We’ve gotten lots of questions about over-the-counter COVID-19 test availability. Testing is in high demand right now, in part because holiday travel plans have run headlong into weather- and holiday-related closures. These specific pressures will ease after the holidays. Additionally, regular shipments of test kits from the federal government will begin arriving in Whatcom County in January. What this means, unfortunately, is that right now, testing resources are tight. Here’s what you can do if you need a COVID-19 test:
Masks. We’re seeing a dramatic rise in cases, and from what we know so far, it appears that the new Omicron variant is considerably more transmissible than previous strains. We recommend that you use the best mask you can to protect yourself and those around you from COVID-19.
New isolation and quarantine guidelines. This week, the CDC and the Washington State Department of Health announced changes to isolation and quarantine guidelines. In a nutshell, if and only if you don’t have symptoms, both isolation and quarantine periods now end after 5 days instead of 10, with 5 days of strict mask wearing around others afterwards.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or you test positive, you need to isolate yourself away from others, preferably in a separate room if you live with people:
If you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 and you don’t have any symptoms, you need to quarantine yourself away from other non-household members.
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. COVID-19 cases have risen sharply. The current report includes specimens collected through December 23, for the most accurate data.
Hospitalizations. There were 17 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 during this reporting week. All were unvaccinated.
According to the December 22 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 18 to 19 times higher for unvaccinated residents. For those 65 years and older, the hospitalization rate was 12 times higher among unvaccinated residents.
Deaths. Since our last data report, there were eight deaths due to COVID-19:
According to the December 22 DOH report mentioned above, unvaccinated individuals 65 and older are 13 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals 65 and older.
Data. As of December 27, 69.3% of all Whatcom County residents have started vaccination, 63.7% have finished, and about 29% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received at least one dose. As of December 25, 56,721 booster doses have been administered to Whatcom residents--an increase of about 10,000 from our last report. Thank you, vaccine providers, for working so diligently to help protect our community.
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. 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, pop-up clinics often happen at various locations around the county.
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 5-11 year-olds at VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov. We’ll announce other vaccine opportunities for this age group as those opportunities become available.