The Whatcom County Health Department has begun rapid drive-through testing of high-priority populations for the COVID-19 virus, but there must be referral by a healthcare provider. (Courtesy photo/John Meloy)

Wearing a mask in public is now recommended by state, CDC

  WHATCOM — New cases of COVID-19 were detected in testing at Lynden Manor on Thursday, April 2. 
  However, there have also been full recoveries at the Lynden assisted-living facility of at least two people who were diagnosed with the coronavirus more than two weeks ago.
  “Bob and Mary Eytzen, both in their 80s, have fully recovered and are feeling good again,” said their daughter, Joanne Eytzen, of Ferndale, in an email.
  On Friday, the Christian Health Care Center of Lynden announced it is assisting video chat with residents there by buying additional iPads for that purpose.
  Video chats — using FaceTime or Skype — are arranged by appointment through CHCC’s recreation department. If you would like to connect with a loved one using this technology, first read the guidelines at and then make arrangements.
  • The Whatcom County Health Department is now able to do rapid testing of high-priority populations for the COVID-19 virus. 
  The department is operating a  drive-through COVID-19 testing site in partnership with Northwest Laboratory on Meridian Street in Bellingham. This response will especially be to congregate living facilities for high-risk adults.  
  The goal is to free up capacity at other medical provider or clinical agency testing sites for the public. The WCHD drive-through is only available by referral from a healthcare provider and cannot be provided for persons wanting to have themselves tested.
  High-priority populations for testing include people with symptoms of COVID-19 who: work in healthcare or public safety sectors; live or work in an institutional or congregate living setting; are employed in essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies and public utilities; are at extra risk being over age 60 or pregnant, or having underlying health conditions. 
  Results from this testing are expected to be available within 24 hours of shipment to the lab. 
  • It is now 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.
  The recommendation, which came down on Friday, April 3, is not a substitute for ongoing guidance to maintain six feet of physical distance from non-household members and performing 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.
  • The number of deaths in Whatcom County related to COVID-19 remained at nine in an 11 a.m. Saturday, April 4, update.
  The number of confirmed cases in the county was at 199, up 17 in a day, while now 803 individuals have tested negative. Nearly half (48%) of cases in Whatcom are persons age 60 and older.
  The state’s numbers as of midnight April 2 were: 284 deaths and 6,966 confirmed cases.
  • Washington says it is continuing to fill critical need for personal protective equipment (PPE). Battelle has delivered to Camp Murray one of its Critical Care Decontamination Systems, which at full installment can sanitize tens of thousands of N95 masks per day so they can be reused. Camp Murray is just the third location across the nation to have received this emerging technology.
  Gov. Inslee has said by proclaimation that the Department of Licensing can extend the renewal date of personal and commercial driver’s licenses and suspend the requirement to hold a DUI hearing within 30 days.
  • The two U.S. representatives for Whatcom County, Suzan DenBene of the 1st District and Rick Larsen of the 2nd District, will host a telephone town hall on COVID-19 issues at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 7.
  With them to hear concerns and answer questions will be Suzan “Suzi” LeVine, commissioner of the Washington Employment Security Department, and Duane Fladland, director of the Washington Small Business Development Center.
  This call-in will be  open to the press. The dial-in number is 855-962-0954. Or sign up for audio live stream at:
  • 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.