WHATCOM — Looking at data from the first week of November, COVID case rates remained high in Whatcom County, specifically in Lynden and Nooksack Valley.
The Whatcom County Health Department reported 440 COVID-19 cases for the week of Nov. 1-6, with about 63 new probable or confirmed cases per day countywide.
The 14-day case rate was 397 per 100,000 people, or 906 total cases over the course of 14 days.
Lynden’s relatively high case rate decreased to 367 cases per 100,000 after high recordings in recent weeks. For comparison, Lynden was at 470 cases per 100,000 on Oct. 30.
The Nooksack Valley area saw an increased number of cases relative to its small population, recording an upward trend and a high case rate at 397 cases per 100,000.
All other areas besides Lynden and Nooksack Valley recorded numbers of 200 cases per 100,000 or below.
Cases in school-age children are at 29% of the total cases for the reporting week, and cases in kids ages 5 to 17 remain higher than any other age group.
The case rate in this age group is highest in Nooksack Valley, while it decreased in Lynden but remains high.
Hospitalizations remain high, according to the health department, but the trend is downward, with 27 hospitalizations in the reporting week, down from 35 the previous week.
Twenty-two of these hospitalizations were unvaccinated people. The number of hospitalizations has decreased in residents 65 and older.
The hospitalization rate was nine times higher among unvaccinated residents. One death did occur during the reporting week, a vaccinated male age 70-79.
As of Nov. 8, 67.3% of all Whatcom County residents have started vaccination and 62.2% have finished.
Vaccinations are now available for kids ages 5 to 11, but data regarding that age group was not available as of press time.
State Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah said in a recent Washington State Dept. of Health briefing that the state recently hit a major COVID vaccination milestone.
“We have hit 10 million doses of COVID vaccines that have been given across the state of Washington, and we are so, so incredibly excited about this,” Shah said. “This is am amazing milestone.”
However, Shah said the state remains in a difficult place as COVID numbers remain higher than they want to see.
Dr. Scott Lindquist, the state epidemiologist for communicable diseases, said most age groups have seen their COVID hospitalizations decrease, but occupancy in hospitals remains high, especially due to the current respiratory virus season in which viruses other than COVID-19 tend to flourish.
“Our kids are tending to have very high cases rates,” Lindquist said. “We’ve seen 7,400 cases related to kids.”
The rates in northeast Washington remain very high, Lindquist said, and variants such as the prevalent Delta variant are seen all over Washington.
The breakthrough case rate among vaccinated people is steady, Lindquist said, totaling to about 69,000 total cases, less than 1.5%.
People age 12 to 34 are five times more likely to get COVID-19 if they are unvaccinated, and unvaccinated people are 30 times more likely to be hospitalized, Lindquist said.
Shah said that, as of the Nov. 10 briefing, 347 new deaths had been added since two weeks prior.
“We are not out of this pandemic,” Shah said. “We are still having far too many people testing positive, far too many people getting hospitalized and far too many people losing their lives in our state from this virus that now is largely a preventable disease.”
Also in the two weeks leading up to the briefing, Shah said, half a million doses of vaccines had been administered. Michelle Robertson, acting assistant secretary of health with the state Dept. of Health, reported that, as of Nov. 8, 79.6% of the population age 12 and older have received at least one COVID vaccine dose and 73.5% are fully vaccinated.
Shah likened the fight against COVID to a race that must be won.
“This continues to be a race against a virus,” he said. “The virus is doing what viruses do. It’s taking people on. And if you want to protect yourself, you have to fight back by getting vaccinated, wearing your mask and doing all the things that we’ve been talking about.”