Lynden senior Wim Dirksen receives his hot meal from cook Keith McKenzie at the pickup window on the Grover Street side of the Lynden Community Center, 401 Grover St. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

County has its first COVID-19 death Thursday

  WHATCOM — The Lynden Community Center is keeping up its hot noon lunch program through the coronavirus outbreak.
  “Do you have a senior loved one, friend or neighbor and are concerned that, in this uneasy time, they are not receiving proper nourishment?” is the invitation. “The Lynden Community Center may be able to help.”
  Cook Keith McKenzie and small crew continue to create a hot meal in the center’s kitchen, as would be normal each weekday. The menu each day is the same as has been published for March.
  But now orders for the hot meal need to be made by phone to 360-354-2921 up to 10:30 a.m. each day and the food is handed out through a pickup window on the Grover Street side of the building from 12 to 12:30 p.m. 
  “The phones were ringing off the hook this morning,” said manager Cathi LeCocq on Friday, March 20.
  The call-in tally is added to the volunteer delivery of the hot meal to shut-ins that has been a standard practice all along. 
  The cost is $5 per meal, whethered delivered or picked up. 
  There is no actual social gathering in the center, which is closed for the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The county Health Department at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, March 19, announced the first Whatcom resident death in the COVID-19 pandemic, a man in his 60s who had tested positive earlier and was in care at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center. See separate posted story.
  • In a partnership with the Bellingham School District to gain more space, the Lighthouse Mission’s Drop-in Center has been moved temporarily to  the Bellingham High School campus on Cornwall Avenue.
  The drop-in center, normally on Holly Street, serves the needs of the local homeless and vulnerable population. 
  The move is consistent with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and state and local Health Department guidelines for social (physical) distancing. Housing will be limited to the school’s commons area and gymnasium.
  “People without homes don’t have the ability to create the social distancing required when they are seeking shelter,” said Anne Deacon, Health Department human services manager.
  The move adds demand on funds as well as for temporary supervisory workers, said Lighthouse executive director Hans Erchinger-Davis. Help out either way by calling 360-671-1562 or visiting
  • From Olympia, the Washington State Department of Commerce is making $30 million in funding immediately accessible to every county under a new grant program.
  This funding will help local governments create housing necessary for quarantine, isolation and additional sanitation to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
  “Upfront, the requirement is simple: coordinate with your local public health department and cities, and get going,” said Lisa Brown, Department of Commerce director. “This grant is designed to get the money out into the communities so we can make a difference immediately.”
  Each county will receive a minimum of $250,000, with the rest distributed based on the number of homeless persons as measured by the annual Point-In-Time Count. 
  • 42nd District state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, will host a telephone town hall meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 20, on the coronavirus outbreak and the latest developments regarding the state’s response.
  Participate by calling in prior to the 6 p.m. start or during the call-in to 360-209-6594.
  • The Lynden-based Washington Red Raspberry Commission is joining other agriculture partners in asking for an exemption for manufacturers of food, beverage and consumer packaged goods from the group-gathering bans that have been ordered.
  There has been some inconsistency across the federal, state and local levels as to what the rules are, wrote local berry grower Jon Maberry in a letter released Friday.
  • State officials say Washington has received 8,000 additional COVID-19 test kits, along with supplies of the protective equipment needed to conduct the tests. But these will go only to King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, the hardest hit by the coronovirus so far.
  • Allegiant Airlines will temporarily suspend all operations out of Bellingham International Airport on March 24.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee imposed a statewide eviction moratorium Wednesday to ensure people don’t lose their homes during a public health crisis.