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Health - Public Health News

Posted on: February 18, 2022

Whatcom County COVID-19 Update for 2/18/22

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, www.whatcomcounty.us/coviddata.

Updates

COVID-19 cases are still high. While signs of a downward trend continued this week, the number of new cases right now is still about twice as high as they were during the Delta surge. Multiple layers of protection are still the best strategy to protect you and your loved ones from COVID-19. Please get vaccinated, or get boosted if you’re eligible--the perfect place to get your dose is the FEMA clinic, which is in Bellingham through Feb. 28.  And when you’re around others, wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask--preferably a KN95, KF94, or 3-ply surgical mask. 

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FEMA vaccine teams! It’s easier than ever now to get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose--a FEMA mobile vaccination unit is in Bellingham! The team will be here through Feb. 28, and can vaccinate hundreds of people every day. If you had trouble getting an appointment last month, now’s the time to get your booster or start your vaccination! 

The clinics will serve everyone ages 5 and up. Pfizer (pediatric and adult), Moderna (regular doses and boosters), and J&J are all available. $50 gift cards are available for people getting their first or second dose. Please see our Vaccination Progress section below for clinic details.

Vaccines for homebound patients. FEMA mobile teams will also bring vaccines to homebound patients. If you or someone you know has difficulty traveling to vaccine providers, please call 360-778-6075 and we can schedule an appointment for you.

Thank you to FEMA, DOH, the Washington Emergency Management Division, PeaceHealth St. Joseph, and Bellingham Technical College for helping us vaccinate more Whatcom County residents!

Mask mandate. This week, the governor announced that the indoor mask mandate will be lifted for most settings on March 21, based on projections of COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases. You can read more about the specifics here. The Whatcom County co-health officers will be watching the situation closely. It is unlikely that our guidance will differ significantly from the statewide guidance unless Whatcom County has unique circumstances that are significantly different from the statewide situation. 

Rapid tests. If you take an at-home rapid COVID-19 test and get a positive result, please report your result on our online form. This helps us track the spread of COVID-19 through the community. You can also anonymously notify your close contacts through WA Notify, which is available for both Apple and Android phones.

COVID-19 data highlights (week of 2/6 - 2/12)

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

Please note: there will be no data report next week due to the holiday weekend and expected delays. DOH is continuing to experience data processing errors, and due to this and other changes (such as increasing reliance on at-home testing), the Whatcom County Health Department will be making changes to our data reporting intervals and measures in the coming weeks.

Cases. There is some uncertainty about this week’s exact numbers for a couple of reasons. As has been the case for several weeks, many residents are turning to at-home tests and most of these results are underreported. In addition, DOH is still experiencing data processing errors, and cases for this reporting week include a significant number of duplicates. They are working to correct the data.

  • Whatcom County saw a small decline in confirmed and probable cases in the most recent reporting week ending 2/12. The total for the week is currently 1,285, pending expected data corrections. Detected infections are still at a higher level than any previous surge during the pandemic.
  • The 7-day case rate was 564 per 100,000 people. 
  • Among the sub-county areas, the 7-day case rates ranged from 250 per 100,000 in the Meridian area to 950 per 100,000 in the Nooksack Valley area. 
  • The 7-day case rates are trending downward except for the 5-17 and 25-44 age groups, which have plateaued at a high level. The highest rate is 1,191 per 100,000 for ages 5-17, up slightly from last week. 

Hospitalizations. There were 47 new hospitalizations due to COVID-19 during this reporting week. Due to data processing errors, vaccination status of these patients is unavailable.

According to the Feb. 16 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 5 to 7 times higher for unvaccinated residents. For those 65 years and older, the hospitalization rate was 8 times higher among unvaccinated residents. 

Deaths. Due to the DOH processing errors, we are temporarily removing vaccination status of Whatcom County residents who died due to COVID-19. 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. Since our last data report, there were six deaths due to COVID-19: 

  • Female, 60-69 years
  • Female, 80-89 years
  • Female, 90-99 years
  • Male, 40-49 years
  • Male, 70-79 years
  • Male, 80-89 years

According to the Feb. 16 DOH report mentioned above, unvaccinated individuals 65 and older are 8 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals 65 and older. 

Vaccination Progress and Clinics

Data. As of Feb. 12, 74% of all Whatcom County residents have started vaccination and 68% have finished. 6,643 children between the ages of 5 and 11 (about 37% of that age group) have received at least one dose. 82,772 booster doses have been administered to Whatcom residents; about a third of those have been given to people 65 and older.

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:

FEMA at Bellingham Technical College’s Settlemyer Hall, 3028 Lindbergh Ave, Bellingham

  • All clinics are 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Walk-ins welcome
  • Boosters, first and second doses for ages 5 and up
  • $50 gift card for getting your 1st or 2nd dose
  • Thursday, Feb. 24: Make an appointment
  • Friday, Feb. 25: Make an appointment


Other clinics may be announced during the week. For an updated list, please visit whatcomcounty.us/covidvaccine.

 

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