Lynden High School friends Matthew Shelley and Levi Fullner share a snack outside the Lynden CHS convenience store on Monday. They said that at first they were happy about the day’s announcement of schools’ full cancellation for the year, and then were not. “I miss school,” said Shelley, a sophomore.  (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

‘Stay home’ order affecting businesses now to May 4; latest advise is for all to wear a mask

  WHATCOM ­— Over four days, from last week Thursday to Monday, the number of local deaths from coronavirus rose by ten to 19, the county Health Department reported.

  The count stayed at 19  in the reporting on Tuesday. 

  The numbers are updated each day at noon, although they represent the count as of the previous midnight. Four deaths had occurred by the end of Saturday, and six more were in the count through Sunday.

  Also, there were 39 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 from the weekend to Tuesday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 238. The results have been negative in at least 825 tests for the disease.

  The county Health Department said it is investigating all confirmed cases and working to support facilities with at least one confirmed case or death of COVID. Also, public health staff can give technical support and may be able to assist with personal protective equipment.

  That involvement by county health authorities last week included the Lynden Manor assisted-living facility. All residents there were tested on Thursday, April 2, for coronavirus, with a reported nine new cases found.

  The administrator of Lynden Manor, Russell Chittock, confirmed that a resident there, a woman in her 90s, died “with” COVID-19 on Wednesday, April 1.

  Chittock believes the distinction of saying “with” coronavirus, not necessarily “of” it, is important. “She was already in the process of passing away from other things when she contracted it,” he said.

  The woman was one of five Lynden Manor residents who had tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, three more than known before, Lynden Manor announced on Tuesday, March 31. 

  However, at least two persons who had coronavirus at Lynden Manor have fully recovered.

  The Washington state numbers, update only through Sunday, April 5, were 372 deaths and 8,384 confirmed cases, with 87,902 negatives tests for an 8.6% positive rate. Almost 60 percent of the state deaths, although only 39% of the cases, were in King County.

  In other COVID-19 news of the past week:

  • Two employees at the Ferndale Grocery Outlet store tested positive for COVID-19, were at home self-quarantined and in recovery, the business posted on its Facebook page on Saturday.

   “Out of an abundance of caution, we closed our store at 5 p.m. on April 4 to have a professional cleaning company come in and completely sanitize the store prior to reopening. We have taken all necessary steps to identify and notify individuals who worked closely with the employees and have asked them to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days or to obtain medical clearance.”

  Online comments praised the store’s transparency and thanked grocery workers for continuing to work.

  • On Thursday, April 2, Gov. Jay Inslee extended his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order for three more weeks to May 4.

  It pertains to all public gatherings and businesses that are not deemed essential.

  “By staying home, we are keeping our communities as healthy as we can,” the Washington State Health Department posted. “We are slowing down the spread of the virus and buying more time for the state to build hospital capacity.

  Washington State’s social distancing efforts are beginning to “flatten the curve,” the department said. Even so, models from the University of Washington suggest that there may be 1,400 deaths from COVID-19 in the state — there were 262 as of April 1 — and “it is clear that more people will die if our social distancing efforts stop right now,” Inslee said.

  • As of April 3, it was the recommendation of the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that people wear cloth face coverings when they are in public settings where they cannot keep six feet of distance from others. This includes trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store and health clinic.

  Many more people can now be seen wearing personal protective masks. 

  The recommendation is not a substitute for ongoing guidance to maintain six feet of physical distance from non-household members and doing frequent hand hygiene with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Wearing cloth face coverings will not prevent spread of COVID-19 without the other protective measures, health authorities say.

  It is not a mandate to wear a face covering. It is considered an additional layer of protection.

  Visit the Washington State Department of Health website ( for a full statement of Guidance on Cloth Face Coverings.

  • “Save Pipes, Don’t Flush Wipes” is the ongoing request from the Ferndale Public Works Department that could be echoed across the country.

  This is the message: “With the uptick in cleaning and sanitation, many of you are flushing wipes down into our sewer system. Please stop. There is no such thing as a flushable wipe. These materials do not break down and will clog our pump stations, causing serious damage to our utilities.”

  Only toilet paper is made to be flushed down a toilet. 

  Not made for sewage disposal (trash instead) are: paper towels, disinfecting wipes, baby wipes, towellettes and mop refills.

  With any questions, contact Ferndale Public Works at 360-384-4006.

  • Whatcom Transportation Authority is limiting the number of people who may be aboard a fixed-route bus at the same time. It will be a maximum of 12 passengers, or up to 15 if those riding together are couples or parents with children.

  If it appears there are already 12 people on board, the driver will ask anyone waiting at a stop to wait for the next bus. As possible, WTA will run “trailers,” or extra buses, on routes of higher ridership. With questions, call 360-676-7433.

  • A second week of unemployment insurance claims confirmed the economic devastation the COVID-19 coronavirus has wrought.

  Reported Thursday, April 2, new claims for the week of March 22-28, soared to a record 181,975, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department. This represents a 3,513% increase compared to 2019, and a 41% increase over the previous week.

  By comparison also, the current numbers are seven times the peak week of the 2008-09 “Great Recession” — 26,075 weekly new claims. Including the ongoing weekly claims that were filed, ESD saw roughly 350,000 claims come into its claims center last week.

  “This virus is having a profoundly negative impact on our economic health, and Washington businesses and workers are hurting like never before,” said Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “Thus far, we have put more than $67M into people’s pockets and into the Washington state economy since the start of the COVID crisis ­— between March 15 and March 28. This weekly amount will only grow as we expect weekly new claims to rise even further.”