This holiday weekend, Whatcom Unified Command (WUC) honors our nation’s independence as well as the resilience, diversity and compassion of those who have been working to protect our community during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Since WUC was activated on March 16, the objective has been to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 locally, minimize economic impacts, enable continuity of essential services, support the community’s most vulnerable populations, and ensure the community is kept informed. In addition to the Whatcom County Health Department, partners and volunteers from all sectors of the community have stepped up to support this vital work.
More than 140 volunteers, representing sectors of the business community ranging from agriculture and manufacturing to retail and real estate, signed up to participate in the Public Health Advisory Board’s COVID Employer Task Force. The group has been developing tools to help businesses get back to work, while maintaining safe practices.
Chambers of Commerce and others partnered to distribute 100,000 masks to help local business prepare to reopen for Phase 2 of Safe Start Washington.
Industries with expertise in emergency management provided trained personnel to serve key leadership roles in the WUC response.
Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteers serving under the Sheriff’s Office have, through June, logged over 7,000 miles in their own vehicles and 900 hours of service. Since WUC’s COVID-19 response began, SAR volunteers have:
- Delivered meals to a skilled nursing facility during its COVID-19 outbreak;
- Made WUC food bank deliveries to homebound individuals and families;
- Collected and delivered donations from the WUC Donations Center;
- Supported set-up of the Byron Avenue Isolation and Quarantine facility; and
- Delivered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to first responders, healthcare and others.
Community volunteers :
The WUC organizational chart is filled with many other volunteers as well as professionals on loan from their workplaces. Whatcom County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) contributed more than 50 volunteers fill a majority of roles. In addition, over 100 other volunteers contributed over 6,900 hours of service, ranging from medical volunteers screening WUC personnel to warehouse workers and supporting food service.
According to WUC Volunteer Branch Director Erica Littlewood, “We’ve had a wide spectrum of people all ages and from all walks of life contribute their time. Some have lost work due to COVID-19 and others used vacation time to help out.”
Finally, in addition to the thousands of handmade masks produced and distributed by community volunteer mask-making groups, private citizens contributed over 1,200 handmade masks through WUC. These masks were sanitized, bundled and distributed to essential businesses to support Phase 2 reopening.