12/03/21 Health Advisory: COVID-19 Updates for Providers

Scientists in lab using microscope

COVID-19 Updates for Providers

Requested Actions

  • Be awareCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory warning of COVID-19 variant of concern Omicron (B.1.1.529). Cases have been detected in multiple states. Omicron has not yet been detected in Whatcom County; however, we are tracking its impact nationally and globally. This new variant has many novel mutations in portions of the genome that could potentially increase infectivity and transmissibility, confer resistance to certain therapeutics and reduce neutralization by convalescent and vaccine sera, however, information is currently limited about the clinical and public health implications.
    • Consider Omicron as part of your differential diagnosis for patients who present with generalized fatigue or malaise. Early reports indicated that Omicron may be linked with mild, generalized symptoms.
    • Take a travel history for all suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases before community transmission of Omicron becomes more prevalent.
      • Notify the Health Department of a confirmed case with history of international travel within 14 days before symptom onset or positive test, if asymptomatic.
      • Notify the Health Department of all close contacts of a confirmed case of Omicron infection.
    • Continue to follow NIH treatment guidelinesfor COVID-19 infection. No data exists yet about the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies or antiviral therapies against Omicron.
  • Encourage all adult patients to get booster doses and all patients 5 years or older to get fully vaccinated.
    • Be aware, CDC strengthened its guidance on booster doses. All adults 18 years or older should get a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the recommended interval.
    • Continue to report all COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the Washington Immunization Information System (IIS). Washington State Department of Health’s Vaccine Locatoruses this data to help people find COVID-19 vaccine.
    • Remind patients how to prevent COVID-19 infection and stop its spread: wear a mask, maintain physical distance, get vaccinated, ensure good ventilation and get tested if you have symptoms.
    • Certain PCR tests can preliminarily indicate Omicron because of its S gene deletion. Labs should send possible Omicron specimens to CDC for sequencing.
  • Be aware, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may soon grant emergency use authorization (EUA) to Molnupiravir, the first oral antiviraldeveloped to prevent severe COVID-19 illness in adults 18 years or older with mild to moderate illness at high risk of progressing to severe illness.
    • Be prepared, Health and Human Services (HHS) will allocate supply to each state and DOH will distribute doses to enrolled providers. HHS created Healthcare Partner Ordering Portal (HPoP) to manage COVID-19 therapeutics.
    • Register for training on HPoP. Email mcm@doh.wa.govto become an enrolled provider. Training is given 9–10 a.m. on Tuesdays in December.

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources


COVID-19 Testing Resources


Patient Education

Share the following materials with patients.

Immediately Report COVID-19

We ask that you notify us of patients being tested who are hospitalized or have contact with a confirmed case, and not wait for the lab confirmation. Fax the COVID-19 Report Form to 360-778-6103. You can leave us a non-urgent confidential report on our 24-hour Communicable Disease Report Line, 360-778-6150.


Additional Resources

Contacting the Health Department

360-778-6100    Main Call Line – available M-F 8:30am to 4:30pm

360-715-2588    Afterhours Answering Service – available after 4:30pm and weekends

360-778-6150    Communicable Disease Report Line – 24 hours a day 7 days a week

360-778-6103    Confidential Communicable Disease Fax – 24 hours a day 7 days a week

1500 N State Street, Bellingham WA 98225