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COVID-19 update: 2 Whatcom County deaths reported – local businesses closing or adapting

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Whatcom Unified Command (WUC) announced during a media conference this morning, Saturday, March 21st, that a second Whatcom County resident had died after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. Officials said a man in his 80s was tested before passing away at his home on March 20th. The test results came back positive this morning.

A man in his 60s who had tested positive was being treated in isolation at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center when he died according to a March 19th press release from the Whatcom County Health Department.

It was also reported that 3 residents at the Shuksan Healthcare Center in Bellingham skilled nursing facility had tested positive for COVID-19. No deaths have been connected to that facility and all the individuals continue to be cared for at Shuksan Healthcare Center.

This morning’s announcement brought the total number of confirmed positive test cases in Whatcom County to 14 as of 9:20am today.

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Health officials say that, while most cases are mild to moderate, approximately 15% of people infected with the COVID-19 virus will be seriously ill.

It is vitally important that people continue to take steps to protect family members, friends and neighbors from this infection. Stay home as much as possible and limit exposure to others. If you are at risk for severe disease, it is especially important to take the necessary steps to limit potential exposure. Guidelines can be found at

Some Ferndale area businesses have begun reporting temporary closures due to either a dramatic slowdown in business or government mandates for social distancing measures. Many retailers and grocery stores along with essential service providers are remaining open as much as possible although some have begun reduced hours of operation. Some restaurants have been able to provide to-go only takeout service along with providing in-house delivery service or utilizing local third-party services like Viking Food.

Viking Food and restaurants such as Westside Pizza have been offering “contactless” drop-off delivery option. In an effort to minimize opportunities for the virus to spread between customers and delivery staff, contactless deliveries take advantage of prepaid orders. Delivery staff can be instructed to leave the order at the front door or predesignated location for the customer to retrieve after they have left the area.

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Local financial service companies, Whatcom Educational Credit Union and Washington Federal Bank have announced business and personal loans to provide cash flow relief to businesses and employees impacted by the reactions to the spreading outbreak.

Whatcom County Health Department guidance

Personal prevention habits

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are sick.
  • Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.

People at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness are to stay home. 

People at higher risk include:

  • People over 60 years of age.
  • Anyone underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes.
  • Anyone with weakened immune systems.
  • Women who are pregnant.

Caregivers of children with underlying health conditions should consult with healthcare providers about whether their children should stay home. Anyone who has questions about whether their condition puts them at risk for novel coronavirus should consult with their healthcare providers.

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