Facts about Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
The COVID-19 Outbreak is an ongoing worldwide outbreak of a highly contagious novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and has spread to other countries, including the U.S. Health experts are concerned because little is known about this new virus, and because it has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people.
The outbreak is rapidly emerging and changing. All new information gathered on this situation will be received from Whatcom County and the State of WA Health Departments and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and shared with the public.
City Facilities Closed to the Public As of March 18, 2020
Out of an abundance of caution, the City of Ferndale will close its doors to the public effective 9am March 18, 2020. All City functions will be maintained during this closure, and City Staff will continue to work and assist the public via phone or email. Please see links below for specific departmental information.
Public Works: Please call (360)384-4006 for assistance.
Police Department: If you need an officer for any reason, call 911. To reach the Records Section or Administration, please call (360)384-3390.
Ferndale Municipal Court: Court is being held on Fridays with social distancing measures in place. Court offices are not yet open to the public, but clerks are working and available to answer your questions. For information regarding court schedules, please call (360) 384-2827 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff will respond as soon as possible.
Anyone faced with a time-sensitive matter, such as the filing of an appeal or the serving of the City with a legal document should immediately contact Haylie Miller at (360)685-2367 or email@example.com to arrange for filing/service.
Any of us can carry the virus and not realize we’re spreading it when we talk, cough or sneeze. Face coverings are required statewide in all public spaces because they are effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19, especially when combined with 6 feet of physical distance.
There are three face cover orders in place:
- A requirement for employers to provide appropriate face coverings or masks to all employees who don’t work alone.
- A Department of Health statewide order directing all individuals to wear a face covering in any indoor public setting or when outdoors and unable to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others. (effective June 26).
- A governor’s order directing businesses to require and enforce the use of face coverings by all customers or visitors. (Guidance for businesses is here in English (Updated July 20) and Spanish).
There are some exemptions to the DOH order, including people with certain disabilities or health conditions, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and children under the age of 2. (Officials encourage use of a face covering by children ages 3-5 if possible. Children 5 and older must wear a face covering.)
You do not need to wear a cloth face covering in your home when you are only with people in your household, or when you are alone in your car. You do not need to wear one when seated at a restaurant eating, or when you are outdoors and people are far apart.
Why is this requirement in place?
Cloth face masks protect other people from getting COVID-19 from us when we talk, cough or sneeze. Between 20-40 percent of people with COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms but can still spread the virus to others. Recent research suggests wearing a face covering can significantly reduce the incidence of COVID-19. Until a vaccine or cure is developed, face coverings will be our best defense.
REMEMBER: Staying home is still the safest way to prevent spreading COVID-19. When out, wear your face covering, stay 6 feet apart from others, wash your hands frequently, and stay local.
Whatcom County is in Phase 2
Our hard work has paid off, and the Washington State Secretary of Health has accepted our application to move to Phase 2 of Washington’s Safe Start Plan. Here’s what that means:
- Small social gatherings – inside or outside – are allowed as long as you don’t see more than 5 people in a week, who you don’t live with.
- Outdoor recreation like camping is allowed as long as it involves 5 or fewer people from outside your household. Always check with campgrounds and recreation facilities before you go for any additional rules and restrictions.
- More businesses and services can reopen with restrictions, including remaining manufacturing and construction activity, domestic services such as nannies and house cleaners, retail stores, real estate services, professional services, nail salons, barbers, and pet grooming.
- Restaurants can open at 50% capacity, but without bar seating.
- More information about the safety measures for each business type can be found on the Washington State Safe Start web page.
What You Need to Know
- The CDC identifies the potential public health risk from this coronavirus as increasing in Washington state.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 primarily include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms typically appear 2 to 14 days after exposure.
- COVID-19 spreads between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) via coughs or sneezes. It may also spread by touching a surface or object with the virus on it.
What You Can Do
Prevention starts with practicing good personal health habits:
- Stay home and away from others when you’re sick
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
- Comply with the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.
By following prevention guidelines, not only do individuals reduce their risk of disease, they also lighten the load on the health care system and slow the spread of disease.
Do not make assumptions about someone’s health status based on their ethnicity, race or national origin. This virus is not specific to any ethnic group or national origin.
City of Ferndale Actions
Community partners throughout Whatcom County are unified in preparing and planning for a possible response to addressing coronavirus. When it comes to protecting the public’s health, we are all in this together.
- The Whatcom County Health Department is the lead response agency on the COVID-19 response for all of Whatcom County, including the City of Ferndale. Although this is a new virus, it’s not an unfamiliar challenge. They prepare for and train to respond to public health threats like this one.
- Whatcom County has activated its internal Incident Command Structure. Their team is working diligently to prepare briefings, press releases, and communication efforts with all sectors of the community. They are in daily communication with the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to share up-to-date information.
- For the safety of our employees and the public, City Facilities are closed. This includes City Hall, the Police Station, and our Playgrounds. City operations are expected to continue to function normally, should any change become necessary, we will inform the public as soon as possible.
- Ferndale Municipal Court: Court is being held on Fridays with social distancing measures in place. Court offices are not yet open to the public, but clerks are working and available to answer your questions. For information regarding court schedules, please call (360) 384-2827 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff will respond as soon as possible.
- The City suspended late fees and utility shutoffs for the Feb. 28th, April 30th and June 30th billing cycles. Customers are still urged to pay all or some of their utility bill.
- For financial assistance with your utility bill, please contact the Ferndale Community Resource Center by clicking here.
- Permit deadlines may need to be adjusted due to the pandemic. Please contact our Community Development Department to receive the flexibility necessary.
- Construction activity has been reactivated with new restrictions. For more information, click here.
- Our Fire/EMS dispatchers responders are screening all calls for potential cases of coronavirus and have plans in place to respond appropriately, as does the hospital. Specific protocols and procedures continue to be discussed and revised as the situation changes.
- The Ferndale Police Department SCOPE Officer program has been temporarily suspended. The Ferndale Police Department will also no longer be offering fingerprinting services.
- The City continues to work with our partners to assess the risk and reduce the impact on our community.