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Sunday, February 28, 2021

NEWS BRIEF: Whatcom County COVID-19 cases higher than ever

Health Department reiterates need to take precautions seriously

A red trend line on the weekly status report graph from Whatcom Unified Command shows a consistent increase in cases of COVID-19 from Dec. 29, 2020 to Jan. 11, 2021.
The weekly status report graph from Whatcom Unified Command shows a consistent increase in cases of COVID-19 from Dec. 29, 2020 to Jan. 11, 2021. // Courtesy of Whatcom Unified Command: COVID-19

By Lauren Gallup

Whatcom County’s COVID-19 cases are higher now than at any other point during the pandemic, according to a press release issued by the Whatcom County Health Department Friday, Jan. 8.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 13, there were a total of 4,357 total cases in the county, according to the COVID-19 data from Whatcom County. Since Dec. 29, daily cases have been rising with nearly 900 new cases over the past two weeks, said Amy Cloud, public information officer for Whatcom Unified Command. 

During the week of Jan. 3, twice as many cases were reported than the week prior, the press release stated.  

Transmission can be attributed to household and social gatherings, as has been the case during the entire pandemic, said Erika Lautenbach, director of the Whatcom County Health Department in the department’s media briefing Wednesday, Jan. 6. 

“From preliminary and ongoing investigation, it appears that the recent increase continues to be associated with house and social gatherings,” Cloud said. “Many clearly aligned with recent holiday gatherings.” 

With the rise in cases, there has also been a rise in hospitalizations, Lautenbach said in the media briefing. 

County statistics also display a disproportionate rise in the Whatcom County Hispanic population. Thirty percent of cases in Whatcom County are attributed to those within the Hispanic/Hispanic-as-race categories, while this group only accounts for 9% of the county’s population, Cloud said.

“National and state data also show that people of color are hurt more by the effects of COVID-19, physically, socially and economically,” Cloud said. “The COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted long-standing inequities and provides an urgent opportunity to address them.”

Referencing when the county might see relief, with vaccinations now being administered in the community, Cloud said it will take months of vaccinations to begin to access any downturn in the progress of the pandemic. 

“If, however, we see a significant community effort to flatten the curve — via mask-wearing, physical distancing and hand-washing — we could see a decrease,” Cloud said.

The press release reiterated measures to take to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19, including avoiding gatherings, maintaining six-feet distance and wearing a mask. 

“We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again, but this time much more urgently,” Lautenbach said in the press release. “Now, perhaps more than ever, the actions you take today can save your life and the lives of others. Cancel your plans this weekend.”

While Whatcom County’s case numbers may compare favorably to other areas in the state, Cloud said, the climbing figures are still very concerning.

More information on COVID-19 precautions can be found in this document on the Whatcom County website.


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