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.
Omicron surge leading to record COVID-19 cases. The Omicron surge is driving record numbers of cases, with no signs of leveling off:
“Even though the Omicron variant is more transmissible than previous variants, the vaccines still protect against severe disease and are a crucial tool in keeping people from needing to go to the hospital,” says Dr. Greg Thompson, Whatcom County co-health officer. “If you’ve been waiting, now is the time to get vaccinated and get boosted. Booster shots give you the greatest amount of protection against Omicron infections, but even those first two doses can reduce severe COVID-19 and hospitalization by over 80 percent.”
Take a multi-layered approach to stop the spread. Besides getting vaccinated and boosted, please also wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask, such as a KN95, KF-94, or three-ply surgical mask. Avoid large crowds, and cancel social gatherings.
COVID-19 testing. Testing continues to be in high demand right now. Appointments at the community testing site are fully booked out for several days, and it’s challenging to find rapid at-home tests. Here’s what you can do if you need a COVID-19 test:
Boosters now recommended for everyone 12 and older. The CDC and DOH have recommended that everyone get a booster dose:
New isolation and quarantine guidelines. Last 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. For more details, see our exposure and illness page or download our PDF summary of the new guidelines.
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 Jan. 1, for the most accurate data.
Hospitalizations. There were 21 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 during this reporting week. 15 patients, or 71%, were unvaccinated.
According to the Jan. 5 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 10 to 14 times higher for unvaccinated residents. For those 65 years and older, the hospitalization rate was 13 times higher among unvaccinated residents.
Deaths. Since our last data report, there were seven deaths due to COVID-19:
According to the Jan. 5 DOH report mentioned above, unvaccinated individuals 65 and older are 15 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals 65 and older.
Data. As of Jan. 1, 69.5% of all Whatcom County residents have started vaccination and 63.8% have finished. As of Jan. 2, about 30% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received at least one dose, and 58,953 booster doses have been administered to Whatcom residents.
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:
Rite-Aid Pharmacy, 222 Telegraph Rd, Bellingham
Everson Elementary, 216 Everson Goshen Rd, Everson
Mt Baker Junior High/Senior High School, 5100 Mitchell Rd, Deming
East Whatcom Regional Resource Center, 8251 Kendall Rd, Maple Falls
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.