With Whatcom at ‘medium’ COVID community level, which areas are seeing even higher risk?
Higher COVID-19 case rates pushed Whatcom County into the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “medium” community level last week, but only one school district region within the county would actually fall in that level.
Two others would have received “high” ratings last week if the CDC measured community levels by school district, The Bellingham Herald’s analysis of the latest location data released by the Whatcom County Health Department found, while the remaining four would all be at the “low” level. Based on the data released Thursday, May 5, by the Whatcom County Health Department and U.S. Census data, The Herald found that the regions covered by the Blaine and Ferndale school districts would both be in the “high” range, based on each region having more than 200 new COVID cases and 10 new COVID-related hospitalizations per 100,000 residents between April 24 and 30.
As of Monday, May 9, St. Joseph hospital in Bellingham reported it was treating seven COVID-related patients. That would give it an average of 7.4 COVID-related patients per day over the past week (May 3-9), or 3.1% of the hospital’s inpatient beds.
While masking is recommended for everyone for counties with “high” community levels, the CDC only recommends face coverings for those who are at high risk of serious complications from COVID and those who could expose those at high risk for counties in the “medium” range. Masking in most indoor situations is not included among the CDC’s recommended guidelines for communities in the “low” level. At every level, the CDC says people “can wear a mask based on personal preference” and should wear a mask if they have COVID symptoms, test positive or have possible exposure.