Whatcom Unified Command COVID-19 Response in Numbers


Proposed by Whatcom Unified Command

In March, Whatcom Unified Command (WUC) has been activated to provide an integrated, coordinated and multi-jurisdictional response to the threat of COVID-19 at the local level, in partnership with the Whatcom County Health Department. Over the past five months, the numbers have made a difference in the joint effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The number of people and agencies working, the volume of supplies received and distributed, and the breadth of agencies and people served are unprecedented in recent memory.

Since the pandemic reached Whatcom County, WUC has called on professionals on loan from their home agencies as well as volunteers to implement goals based on WUC’s priorities: personal safety; continuity of government; essential social services; and economic impacts. In support of these goals, WUC established and maintains an isolation and quarantine facility, provides delivery and support services to food banks in the region, supported the initial relocation of the reception center and planned and staffed a four-day low barrier with drive-thru COVID-19 Pilot Testing Program with the Whatcom County Health Department.

“Having Whatcom Unified Command as a partner is vital for the community’s practical response to this public health threat,” said Erika Lautenbach, director of the Whatcom County Health Department. “WUC not only supports the direct public health response through its partnerships in planning and operational efforts related to testing, PPE distribution, and isolation and quarantine facilities, but also carried out the logistical work. which is essential to meet some of the basic needs of our community. such as childcare and food distribution. ”

The pilot test project, which laid the groundwork for additional on-demand testing, was made possible by more than 65 staff and volunteers from the Department of Health and WUC, working 328 teams over four days. During this period, more than 1,800 tests were administered, with 19 confirmed cases identified. Additional low barrier testing will be offered at the site around Whatcom County, starting later this month.

Byron Avenue isolation and quarantine:
Since the establishment of Byron Avenue was established in late April, more than 80 people have been able to safely quarantine themselves for up to 14 days after exposure to a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or staying isolated during illness, for a total of 545 bed days.

Food support services:
Every week, WUC and volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), YMCA, Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA), Whatcom County Search and Rescue and community food bank partners distribute food to hundreds of people. households. In just one month (June), WUC and its partners distributed around 900,000 meals.

Without volunteers, the essential work of WUC could not take place. In four months (between March and July), approximately 200 volunteers contributed over 8,000 hours and 10,000 miles.

WUC has provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to 148 agencies across Whatcom County. The PPE distributed includes over 200,000 gloves, nearly 140 gallons of hand sanitizer, over 305,000 disposable masks and nearly 160,000 sheet masks. (Masks, along with hand washing and social distancing, remain the most effective proven way to reduce the spread of COVID-19.)

The numbers that motivate everyone else:
In the past two weeks, between July 28 and August 10, the number of confirmed cases increased by 136, bringing the Whatcom County total to 989, with 39 local lives lost. Although the focus is on the number six (the number of feet of separation in “social distancing”) and the number of metrics encountered that are essential to move to phase 3, the Department of Health notes “the most important number to watchIs even more personal. This is the number of people that each person gathers with.

For more information on community resources or the work of Whatcom Unified Command, please see WhatcomCOVID.com or the Whatcom COVID-19 Facebook Unified Command page.

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