Our health advisories have the latest information.
COVID-19 Surveillance and Reporting
All lab-confirmed COVID-19 infections are reported to the Washington Disease Reporting System whether tested through public health or commercial labs. Whatcom County Health Department then receives and reports the test results.
Fax the COVID-19 Report Form to 360-778-6103 or you can leave us a non-urgent confidential report on our 24-hour Communicable Disease Report Line, 360-778-6150.
- If DOH issues more specific notification criteria and requirements, we will update our guidance.
Provider consultation with Whatcom County Health Department Communicable Disease staff is available at (360) 778-6100 during hours of 8:30 am-4:30 pm. For consultation after hours, call (360) 778-6100 and follow directions to connect with the Health Department’s Answering Service.
The Department of Health is introducing new guidance for point-of-care (POC) testing facilities reporting COVID-19 test results. Facilities administering POC testing for COVID-19 should report all their COVID-19 testing results to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). This will allow DOH to track facilities receiving POC tests and ensure reporting of results. DOH will enter results timely to ensure case investigations can begin promptly.
To assist with reporting, DOH has developed a fillable pdf report form, spreadsheet template, and guidance to encourage facilities to report as electronically as possible. These materials are attached and the information will be available on our new webpage, Reporting COVID-19 Test Results for Point-of-Care Testing Facilities.
- Generally, the Whatcom County Health Department is recommending that healthcare providers send COVID-19 specimens to commercial labs.
- The Whatcom County Health Department continues to do limited specimen collection at our drive-through site or via mobile van for some outbreak or cluster investigation purposes. The Whatcom County Health Department also continues to arrange for testing for all close contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases.
- The Washington State Public Health Laboratories will accept specimens meeting specific criteria directly from clinicians as outlined in this document.
- If you are unable to test a patient, please call the Whatcom County Health Department at 360-788-6100 to discuss options for referring and to see if the patient meets our priorities. Do not send patients directly to the Health Department without calling first.
- It is important to conserve PPE for recommended uses.
- Respirators (N-95, CAPR, PAPR) should be prioritized for use with aerosol-generating procedures. Nasopharyngeal swab collection is considered aerosol-generating.
- Guidelines are provided for prioritizing use of available PPE when supplies are limited:
- Guidance Using Test-Based Strategies for Preventing COVID-19 Transmission in Nursing Homes
- Interim Guidance on Discontinuation of Transmission-Based Precautions and Disposition of Patients with COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings
*Important note on Isolation and Quarantine:
*If someone is a non-healthcare worker and suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 they will need to quarantine/isolate themselves for at least 24 hours since their fever and other symptoms are gone and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first started. A limited number of persons with severe illness may warrant extending duration of isolation and precautions for up to 20 days after symptom onset. Close contacts of confirmed cases need to be tested for COVID-19 and regardless of results should quarantine for 14 days, this includes daily symptom monitoring.
Persons who require assistance to isolate/quarantine should be referred to the Whatcom County Health Department to determine if they qualify to stay at the isolation and quarantine facility on Byron Street in Bellingham.
- Explanation of the COVID-19 Isolation & Quarantine Facility Referral Process
- COVID-19 Isolation & Quarantine Facility Referral Form
- Infographic for Patients – Isolation/Quarantine Facility (Spanish)
When providers approve testing for COVID-19, it is essential for disease control to also provide isolation or quarantine directions. Below you can find and print WA DOH informational fliers to help your patients know what to do and be aware of, depending on their situation.
Resources for Patient Instructions
- For symptoms—What to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and have not been around a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
- For exposed—What to do if you may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19.
- For confirmed or suspected—What to do if you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
Long Term Care Facilities
- CDC Criteria for Return to Work for Healthcare Personnel with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 (Interim Guidance)
For more general information, visit our website.