County, state are aligning their systems, definitions

  WHATCOM ­— The county, as of Tuesday, June 9, stood at having 420 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the counting began in late February, and 38 deaths. Hospitalizations number 53. 

  The number of new cases per day in June has been approximately 2 to 4, although some data is still being confirmed for June, according to a chart on the Whatcom County Health Department website. The epidemiological curve is headed generally down.

  Confirmed cases have been 55% females, 45% males. Deaths have been


even, 50% for both males and females.

  In terms of age, 81% of COVID-19 deaths have been among those 80 and older, and the remaining 19% in the age group 60-79. Confirmed cases have been more spread out, 31% in the age bracket 20-39, 24% in the 40-59 range, and 17-18% in the age brackets 60-79 and 80-plus. 

  The percent of deaths from confirmed cases is 8.8% while the rate of testing positive among 12,378 tests is now 3.4%.

  Last week, Whatcom County switched from its own internal database to a new dashboard for conveying information, the Washington Disease Reporting System. That will eventually make its numbers more consistent with what the state reports for Whatcom.

  For instance, Whatcom County has been reporting fewer deaths than the state Department of Health, because “we have different definitions of what a COVID-19 death is,” the county says. “We’ve defined a COVID-19 death as someone who died with COVID-19 as their primary cause of death, meaning they died because of COVID-19. DOH has been including people who tested positive for COVID-19 and died, but who didn’t die because of COVID-19.”

  The shift of database explains why the county’s dashboard now shows a higher number of deaths (38) than previously (30), says county Health. “DOH is currently updating their definition, and in the coming days, the total number of deaths reported on the dashboard will decrease.

  The dashboard is updated daily from 2 to 4 p.m., when it may not be available online.

  • The Whatcom County Health Department is disclosing the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 geographically by school district in the county, and then the rate of cases per 100,000 population.

  These were the numbers as of June 9:

Meridian — 27 cases, rate of 251

Nooksack Valley — 26 cases, rate of 235

Blaine — 32 cases, rate of 182

Bellingham — 204 cases, rate of 181

Mount Baker — 28 cases, rate of 177

Lynden — 34 cases, rate of 168

Ferndale — 56 cases, rate of 167

  School districts are used because people often identify their community in that way, and also more limited testing could cause mapping to misrepresent the geographic impact of illness in the county, the Health Department says.

  In terms of race and ethnicity, COVID is present among American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic populations at a higher rate than their percentage in the population as a whole. In the first group, the difference is 12% to 3%; in the second, it is 23% to 9%. Data for Asian/Pacific Islander and for Black populations is not available.