Health officials investigating series of COVID-19 virus outbreaks in Whatcom County

Health officials investigating series of COVID-19 virus outbreaks in Whatcom County

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — The Whatcom County Health Department is investigating a series of COVID-19 virus outbreaks related to some large social gatherings held in late May, for which there were no allowances during that time, officials said.

The gatherings were held in public places and at homes in which attendees were in close contact, causing some to become infected with the virus, according to health officials.

The county was recently approved to move into phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan but now fears the outbreaks could affect its ability to remain in that phase. Additional investigations and tests are being conducted.

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Since moving into phase 2 on June 5, the county has reported 31 new cases.

“COVID-19 is not over yet,” Whatcom County Health Officer Dr. Greg Stern said. “It’s still up to us to follow the precautions and guidelines so we can prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Health officials said some people who have COVID-19 will not have symptoms and can transmit the virus to others without knowing it.

“People who have attended large gatherings and were unable to maintain 6 foot distance around others who were not using face coverings, especially if around people shouting at close distance, should monitor symptoms for 14 days, minimize contact with others, and consider getting tested a week after the event,” the WCHD stated.

Health officials said the investigation highlights how important it is to follow the guidelines for phase 2, which include limiting gatherings to five people or fewer from outside one’s household per week, maintaining appropriate physical distance and wearing a face covering while in public.