COVID infection rates across Whatcom continue surge, as one region’s rate surpasses 3,000

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While one of Whatcom County’s seven school district regions managed to keep its two-week COVID-19 infection rate below 2,000 cases per 100,000 residents, the omicron surge pushed another above 3,000.

The region covered by the Ferndale School District, which last week became the first region with an infection rate higher than 2,000, has since surpassed 3,000 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the Whatcom County Health Department’s latest location data released on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

The Mount Baker region, meanwhile, was the only region to keep its infection rate lower than 2,000, according to the county’s latest data.

For the second straight week, the Bellingham region had more more than 1,400 cases reported, as it moved past 10,000 COVID cases during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the six other regions all had triple-digit increases.

Age-range data showed weekly infection rates were highest among Whatcom residents between the ages of 5 and 17 (2,448 cases per 100,000 residents), though those between 18 and 24 (2,155 cases per 100,000 residents) and those in the 25-to-44 age group (2,054 cases per 100,000 residents) also continued to surge. Whatcom residents 65 and older were the only age group with an infection rate lower than 500 cases per 100,000 residents (387).

COVID-related hospitalization rates, meanwhile increased in six of the seven regions, with the Lynden region, which had the highest rate last week, being the one region to see a decrease.

The county health department releases weekly data on the location of COVID-19 cases using school districts as geographical boundaries, including each region’s number of total cases during the pandemic, infection rate, hospitalization rate, percentage of residents who have initiated vaccination and a breakdown of case rates by age.

Data in this week’s report was through Friday, Jan. 14. The health department told The Bellingham Herald that data from Saturday, Jan. 15, was very incomplete and likely to change, and it was not included in the report this week.

Overall, Whatcom County saw a 14.2% growth in cases with 3,421 new cases between Jan. 9 and Jan. 14 — up from the 2,687 new cases the county reported the previous week.

With 6,108 cases in the past two weeks, Whatcom County has an overall two-week infection rate of 2,715 cases per 100,000 residents, based on 225,300 residents in the county. Five of the county’s regions had infection rates lower than that mark, according to the county’s data this week.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 19, the Washington State Department of Health reported that 70% of all Whatcom County residents had initiated vaccination and 64% had completed it.

Here is what the health department’s latest data showed for the seven regions in the county:

Bellingham: Up 18.2% (1,664 cases) since the Jan. 11 report to 10,813 total cases, and the rate of new infections per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days increased from 1,778 last week to 2,719 this week. Approximately 81% of residents in the region have initiated vaccination, and the region has seen 42 COVID-related hospitalizations per 100,000 in the past two weeks.

Blaine: Up 12.9% (244 cases) since the Jan. 11 report to 2,141 total cases, and the rate of new infections per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days increased from 1,655 last week to 2,382 this week. Approximately 74% of residents in the region have initiated vaccination, and the region has seen 69 COVID-related hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks.

Ferndale: Up 14.4% (663 cases) since the Jan. 11 report to 5,279 total cases, and the rate of new infections per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days increased from 2,082 last week to 3,208 this week. Approximately 70% of residents in the region have initiated vaccination, and the region has seen 25 COVID-related hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks.

Lynden: Up 9.1% (348 cases) since the Jan. 11 report to 4,168 total cases, and the rate of new infections per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days increased from 1,609 last week to 2,637 this week. Approximately 58% of residents in the region have initiated vaccination, and the region has seen 47 COVID-related hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks.

Meridian: Up 10.7% (144 cases) since the Jan. 11 report to 1,487 total cases, and the rate of new infections per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days increased from 1,712 last week to 2,469 this week. Approximately 66% of residents in the region have initiated vaccination, and the region has seen 53 COVID-related hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks.

Mount Baker: Up 11.4% (166 cases) since the Jan. 11 report to 1,624 total cases, and the rate of new infections per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days increased from 1,506 last week to 1,942 this week. Approximately 49% of residents in the region have initiated vaccination, and the region has seen 50 COVID-related hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks.

Nooksack Valley: Up 11.1% (192 cases) since the Jan. 1 report to 1,921 total cases, and the rate of new infections per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days increased from 1,673 last week to 2,676 this week. Approximately 54% of residents in the region have initiated vaccination, and the region has seen 61 COVID-related hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks.

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