IMPORTANT UPDATE: Due to current guidance from public health officials, Whatcom County Library System is cancelling all branch programs, events, meeting room bookings, and outreach activities during the month of March. At this time, all branch locations continue to operate with normal hours. Find out more about our response to COVID-19 and how to access library services online below.
As you are likely aware, our state is experiencing an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, which is a respiratory illness currently being spread from person to person in many countries, including the United States. On March 10, following the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Whatcom County, Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu, in coordination with the Whatcom County Health Board, declared a public health emergency to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
As our communities navigate the COVID-19 outbreak, WCLS is following the guidance of the Whatcom County Health Department regarding library operations. Currently, all 10 branches, the Bookmobile and our administrative offices are open and operating on normal schedules. However, the Library is cancelling all programs, events, meeting room bookings, and outreach activities during the month of March.
For up-to-date information on COVID-19, monitor reliable sources such as:
- Whatcom County Health Department (including fact sheets in Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese) – www.whatcomcounty.us/ncov
- Washington State Department of Health – www.doh.wa.gov/Coronavirus
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – www.cdc.gov/coronavirus
- Washington State Department of Health has set up a call center to answer questions. Anyone who has questions about what is happening with coronavirus in Washington State, how it is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms should call the hotline at 1 (800) 525-0127 and press #.
- Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Interactive Dashboard with realtime information on reported cases
We encourage patrons and staff to follow the Whatcom County Health Department’s personal prevention steps including:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Cough and sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue, then throw away the tissue.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you or a family member is sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently used objects and surfaces.
- Maintain at least 3 feet of distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
By following prevention guidelines, you reduce the risk of disease, and you lighten the load on the health care system and slow the spread of disease.
Facemasks are NOT recommended as routine prevention. They are recommended for use for people experiencing symptoms and for health care providers with direct contact with sick individuals.
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.
At our library branches, we continue to follow best hygiene practices for workplaces – including regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and equipment in our buildings, making hand sanitizer available to staff and patrons, and encouraging frequent hand-washing.
If you are staying home, WCLS has many digital services available to you for free, such as e-books and e-audiobooks; streaming TV, movie and music services; and digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines. Learn more here.
We will continue to communicate if there are additional impacts to the library system as a result of COVID-19. Updates will be shared here, on our calendar, and via our social media pages.