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If Skagit has ever faced a challenge, this is it.

There is much unknown, and often the unknown leads to reasonable fear and anxiety. However, we are a strong community. You can see it in our people who come from all walks of life. People who are supporting neighbors, taking care of their families and changing their lives in order to protect us all. This mix of connection and diversity might be rooted in our geography. Skagit stretches from idyllic islands to unending miles of shoreline to incredibly rich farmland to the foothills of the majestic Cascade range. Yet all this varied land and diverse people are linked together in ways that are obvious, even during social distancing.

In this trying time, we strive to bring you useful information, health guidance, COVID-19 updates, stories of people persevering and some lightness to ease our uncertainty. These days, connection often seems a rare commodity, yet it somehow remains the foundation of the Skagit community. We look forward to the possibility of a continued connection with you.


Public Health Reminder: Masking Still Critical this Holiday Season

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December 1, 2021

The holidays are upon us. As Skagitonians are out and about preparing for holiday festivities, please remember: masking is still critical—and required—in all indoor public spaces AND certain outdoor settings. This includes all local businesses, chain outlets, and grocery stores.

The statewide mask mandate requires that all people five years of age and older must wear a mask in public indoor settings and at large, outdoor events with 500 or more attendees, including sporting events, fairs, parades, and concerts, regardless of vaccination status.

There are some exceptions to the mask requirement, including children under five years of age, and people with a medical or mental health condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask. Children between 2 and 4 years of age can, and are encouraged, to wear a mask under close adult supervision. Children under 2 should not wear masks.

Face masks remain an important tool in preventing transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Though Skagit County is just over 60 percent fully vaccinated, there are still many folks, including young children, who are not protected.

Science has shown that masking works. COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets when infected people—many of whom do not exhibit COVID-19 symptoms—cough, sneeze, or talk. Evidence shows that wearing a mask reduces an infected person’s chance of spreading the infection to others.

Furthermore, it is imperative that people wear their mask properly. To be effective, a mask must cover the nose, mouth, and chin, and must fit snuggly against one’s face. For tips on getting the best fit, visit the CDC’s mask guidance webpage here.

Wearing a mask when out in the community is an easy way to show your neighbors and favorite businesses that you care this holiday season. Please help our local businesses operate smoothly this season by following all state and local rules and guidance.

Another great way to ensure that things run smoothly for the holidays is by taking precautions at home. If unvaccinated, please remember that masking is still recommended when gathering with non-household members, especially when indoors. COVID-19 can easily spread in these types of environments, causing folks to miss out on school, work, and fun, festive holiday events.

Have a wonderful holiday season, Skagit! Be well!


Secure Medicine Return…Now Available Statewide!

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Secure medicine return has been a major area of focus for Skagit County Public Health for several years now. You may have seen return boxes popping up here and there over the past 2-3 years at police departments, pharmacies, and county buildings. You might have also taken part in one of our local take back events, hosted by law enforcement and prevention coalitions, which take place every April and October.

What you may not know though is that Washington State only just recently adopted a statewide Secure Medicine Return Program, which officially launched on November 21! If you have questions about the program, and about how to dispose of your unused or expired medication, please read on…

What is the Secure Medication Program?

Safe Medication Return is a unified, statewide program that gives Washington residents free, convenient, and environmentally responsible options to dispose of unwanted medication. Drug manufacturers fund the program at no cost to taxpayers.

Safe Medication Return is operated by MED-Project, which is the approved program operator. The Washington State Department of Health oversees the establishment of the program, monitors on-going operations, manages enforcement when compliance issues arise, and evaluates program effectiveness.

Why is secure medication disposal important?

Properly disposing unused and expired medication is a great way to protect your family and your community. Research has shown that unused, unwanted, and/or expired medicines in your home pose an increased risk for drug misuse/abuse. Local data has shown that the home medicine cabinet is one of the most common places for people to go when looking for drugs to get high.

Accidental poisoning is also of major concern. Many young children get poisoned by taking medicine not intended for them. If medication is left out or stored improperly, the likelihood of little hands getting hold of these medications is quite high.

Lastly, disposing of medications improperly is bad for the environment. When medicines are flushed down the toilet or thrown in the trash, it pollutes our water and soil.

How does it work?

There are two main ways to return your unused medication. Both options are FREE.

  • Mail in your unused medication
    • Request a free prepaid envelope and one will be sent to you by mail.
    • Place your unused medication in the envelope
    • Mail the package as you would any other parcel.
  • Take it to a drop off site
    • Find your nearest drop off site, and deposit your medication in the kiosk. That’s it!
    • You do not need to provide an ID, talk with anyone, or complete paperwork.

What medicines are accepted by MED-Project? 

Medicines in any form including solids, liquids or patches, inhalers and prefilled products containing a sharp and auto-injectors (such as Epi Pens). This can include:

  • Prescription and over the counter medicines
  • Brand name and generic medicines
  • Controlled substances
  • Pet medications 

What medicines are NOT accepted?

  • Vitamins or supplements
  • Herbal-based remedies and homeopathic drugs, products or remedies
  • Cosmetics, shampoos, sunscreen, toothpaste, lip balm, antiperspirants or other personal care products
  • Pet pesticide products contained in pet collars, powders, shampoos or other forms
  • Medical sharps (needles, syringes) and empty auto injectables (such as used Epi Pens)
  • Medical devices
  • Medicines generated by businesses

For more information, visit the WA Department of Health’s Secure Medication webpage here. You can also contact Skagit County Public Health either by email at eh@co.skagit.wa.us or by phone (360) 416-1500.

Thank you for taking this extra step to ensure the safety of your friends and neighbors!


Public Health to Close Fairgrounds Testing and Vaccination Site After January 28, 2022

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November 19, 2021

The Skagit County Fairgrounds Testing and Vaccination Site will close permanently after Friday, January 28, 2022. The site, located at 501 Taylor Street in Mount Vernon, has operated since November of 2020, with a temporary closure between July – August 2021. Prior to this, COVID-19 testing was provided by Public Health at Skagit Valley College.

To date, Public Health has administered approximately 55,492 vaccine doses in Skagit County. Since the Fairgrounds reopened in August 2021, over 11,400 antigen tests have been conducted. When the site closes, Public Health’s COVID-19 response will have included 17 months of testing (no services between March – July 2021), and 13 months of vaccination services.

“We are extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished at the Fairgrounds. After nearly a year and a half of providing critical pandemic response services to our community, its time for our staff to shift and refocus on the many other responsibilities that fall on Public Health.” 

Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director

Antigen testing will continue to be offered until the site closes after January 28. Testing is available to people 5 years and older who live, work, or go to school in Skagit County and who are symptomatic or have been recently exposed to COVID-19. No appointment or insurance is required for testing services.

First, second, and third doses of vaccine for people 12 years and older will also continue to be offered—no appointment required—through January 28. The final day to receive a first dose of vaccine with a second dose guaranteed at the Fairgrounds will be January 17, 2022. After this date, people will be required to seek their second dose elsewhere.

The final day to book an appointment for a COVID-19 booster will be November 24, 2021. To make an appointment for a booster, go to https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/ and search for “Skagit County Public Health.”

Lastly, beginning December 1, 2021, the Fairgrounds will be increasing the daily number of pediatric vaccine appointments for children 5-11 years old. Please note that at this time, appointments are still limited. To schedule a pediatric vaccine appointment, go to https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/ and search for “Skagit County Public Health,” or use Vaccine Locator to find another provider. 

For a full list of testing and vaccination providers in Skagit County, visit our website at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #. 


Returning Home After A Flood

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When returning to a home that’s been flooded after a natural disaster, be aware that your house may be contaminated by floodwaters, mold, or sewage, all of which can cause health risks for your family. Below are some tips for Skagitonians who may be returning home after flooding.

When you first reenter your home.

Before returning home, make sure that it is safe to do so. Always pay attention to authorities for information and instructions. 

When it is safe, try to return to your home during the daytime so that you do not have to use any lights. Use battery-powered flashlights and lanterns, rather than candles or gas lanterns. Please keep the following in mind:

  • If you have standing water in your home and can turn off the main power from a dry location, then go ahead and turn off the power, even if it delays cleaning. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician to turn it off. NEVER turn power on or off yourself or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows, and leave your house immediately. Notify the gas company or the police or fire departments or State Fire Marshal’s office, and do not turn on the lights or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return until you are told it is safe to do so.
  • If the house has been closed for several days, enter briefly to open doors and windows to let the house air out for a while (at least 30 minutes) before you stay for any length of time.
  • If your home has been flooded and has been closed for several days, assume your home has been contaminated by floodwater, sewage, and/or mold. See Floodwater After a Disaster or Emergency.

Stay out of floodwater.

Floodwaters contain many things that may harm health. It is important to protect yourself from exposure to floodwater regardless of the source of contamination. The best way to protect yourself is to stay out of the water.

If you come in contact with floodwater:

  • Wash with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If you don’t have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizer.
  • Take care of wounds and seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Wash clothes contaminated with flood or sewage water in hot water and detergent before reusing them.

If you must enter floodwater, wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles.

Throw away unsafe food.

Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water; perishable foods that have not been refrigerated properly due to power outages; and those with an unusual odor, color, or texture. Unsafe food can make you sick even if it looks, smells, and tastes normal. When in doubt, throw it out. For more information, visit Keep Food Safe After a Disaster or Emergency.

Use safe water.

Floodwater can contaminate your drinking water. Some contaminants from surface water get into the groundwater and affect private drinking water wells and municipal water systems that use groundwater.

Do not use water you suspect or have been told is contaminated to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula. Safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled, or treated water.

For tips on how to properly disinfect contaminated water, go to Public Health’s Safe Water webpage or give us a call at (360) 416-1500.

For well water:

Wells that have been flooded may be contaminated with pathogenic organisms that can cause disease (bacteria, viruses). To have well water tested, contact one of the labs below:

  • Edge Analytical, Burlington: 360-757-1400
  • Everett Environmental Laboratory, Everett: 425-257-8230
  • Monroe Water Quality Laboratory, Monroe: 360-794-6558
  • Exact Scientific Services, Ferndale: 360-733-1205
  • Lynden Water Treatment Plant, Lynden: 360-255-5470

For septic systems.

For information about what to do with your septic system after a flooding event, go to: https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/septic-systems-what-do-after-flood.

Clean up your home safely.

Before you begin to clean, be sure to check in with your insurance company. You may need to document any damage to your property.

Take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones during the cleanup process. For more information, visit Clean Up Safely After a Disaster. Some quick tips?

  • Using personal protective equipment (or “PPE”), like gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask to avoid breathing in fine silts and sands.
  • Be sure to wear long sleeve shirts and pants while cleaning and wash hands frequently with soap and water.

Use generators and other electrical equipment safely.

Talk to your utility company about using electrical equipment, including power generators. Be aware that it is against the law and a violation of electrical codes to connect generators to your home’s electrical circuits without the approved, automatic-interrupt devices. If a generator is online when electrical service is restored, it can become a major fire hazard. In addition, the improper connection of a generator to your home’s electrical circuits may endanger line workers helping to restore power in your area.

All electrical equipment and appliances must be completely dry before returning them to service. Have a certified electrician check these items if there is any question. For more information, see Protect Yourself and Others From Electrical Hazards After a Disaster.

Never use a generator, pressure washer, any gasoline-powered engine, or charcoal grills inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent. Visit Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After an Emergency for more information.

Dry out your home to prevent mold.

If flood or storm water has entered your home, dry it out as soon as possible to prevent mold. Here’s some helpful guidance:

People with asthma and other lung conditions and/or immune suppression should not enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth that can be seen or smelled. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work.

If you have electricity and an electrician has determined that it’s safe to turn it on, use a “wet-dry” shop vacuum (or the vacuum function of a carpet steam cleaner), an electric-powered water transfer pump, or sump pump to remove standing water. If you are operating equipment in wet areas, be sure to wear rubber boots to avoid electrocution.

If you do not have electricity, or it is not safe to turn it on, you can use a portable generator to power equipment to remove standing water. Note: If you must use a gasoline-powered pump, generator, pressure washer, or any other gasoline-powered tools to clean your home, never operate the gasoline engine inside a home, basement, garage, carport, porch, or other enclosed or partially enclosed structures, or less than 20 feet from any door, window, or vent, even if the windows and doors are open. Such improper use can create dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide and cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

If weather permits, open windows and doors of the house to aid in the drying-out process.

Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture. Fans should be placed at a window or door to blow the air outwards rather than inwards, so not to spread the mold.

Have your home heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system checked and cleaned by a maintenance or service professional who is experienced in mold cleanup before you turn it on. If the HVAC system was flooded with water, turning on the mold-contaminated HVAC will spread mold throughout the house. Professional cleaning will kill the mold and prevent later mold growth. When the service determines that your system is clean and if it is safe to do so, you can turn it on and use it to help remove excess moisture from your home.

Prevent water outdoors from reentering your home. For example, rainwater from gutters or the roof should drain away from the house; the ground around the house should slope away from the house to keep basements and crawl spaces dry.

Ensure that crawl spaces in basements have proper drainage to limit water seepage. Ventilate to allow the area to dry out.

For more information on mold cleanup, visit Homeowner’s and Renter’s Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters.


If you have questions or concerns about re-entering your home, please contact Skagit County Public Health at (360) 416-1500 or email EH@co.skagit.wa.us.


Why are Skagit County’s COVID-19 case rates so different?

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If you’ve been wondering why Skagit County’s case rates are so high and aren’t declining like some other counties in the state, you’re not alone! We’ve gotten many questions recently about why Skagit seems to be so different compared to our neighboring counties. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple—there are several factors at play. Here are some things to consider:

1. Skagit County’s population is different! We are more rural and agricultural than our neighbors to the north and south. Many of our residents do not work from home, meaning that folks are out in the community more. We also have many large households here in Skagit, which allows for more household transmissions.

2. Our vaccination rates are still behind our neighbors—especially King county. Populations with a higher percentage of fully vaccinated residents will see lower case rates. Until we have a higher vaccination percentage, COVID-19 will continue to spread.

3.  Many of our residents are still not taking proper precautions. Masking and limiting gatherings can help to keep disease transmission lower. We are currently seeing the results of Halloween weekend, with a greater number of new cases over the past week or so.

Thankfully, it isn’t all bad. There are some good things at play too when considering our case numbers.

1. Skagit County residents continue to take testing seriously! Folks are great at getting tested when not feeling well or when potentially exposed to the virus. We know this by looking at our positivity rates at the Fairgrounds testing site. Since we reopened in August, we’re averaging about 11-12% percent positivity—this means that slightly more than 1 in every 10 people who come to the fairgrounds on a given day are testing positive.

2. Expanding on this—Skagit County has low-barrier testing options that many of our neighboring counties do not! This means that more people can access a test when they need it.

3. Public Health, when conducting case investigation, recommends that positive cases have other members in their households tested. Since we know that COVID-19 can spread easily within one’s home, there is a good likelihood that other members of the home will also test positive.

4. Our partners—schools, employers, long-term care facilities—are really great at doing what they need to do, including following testing guidance from Public Health and the Washington Department of Health.

Lastly, it is important to note that while our case rates are high right now for us, Skagit never saw the incredible spikes in cases that many of our comparable counties saw earlier this year. Yes, our numbers are high, but our trends have always been much smoother than counties in Eastern Washington, for example.


Case and hospitalization data can be found anytime on our website or on the State Data Dashboard


Skagit Fairgrounds Testing & Vaccine Site Closed November 15 and 16

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November 15, 2021

The Skagit Fairgrounds Testing & Vaccine Site will be closed on Monday, November 15 and Tuesday, November 16 due to flooding and high winds. The site will reopen on Thursday, November 18 assuming that there are no serious impacts to the area from flooding and high winds.

“It is our priority to protect the health and safety of our staff and volunteers at the Fairgrounds site,” said Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director. “When it is safe to reopen the site, we will do so.” 

Flooding is expected to continue in Skagit County throughout the days of November 15 and November 16. As of 4:00 am this morning, the Skagit River is forecasted to crest in Mount Vernon at 37.46 feet at 10:00 am on Tuesday, November 16. High winds and falling trees are also of concern with the grounds saturated from rainwater.

Due to the Fairgrounds remaining closed on Monday, November 15, appointments for pediatric vaccines will not be made available this morning at 9 a.m. as scheduled. New appointments will be added next Monday, November 22 at 9 a.m. instead.

Those who have scheduled appointments for booster vaccines for November 15 and 16 will be contacted by Public Health, and these appointments will be rescheduled for a later date.

If you are looking for other COVID-19 testing or vaccination options, visit our website at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus. Please check with your chosen location in advance to ensure that they are operating.

For more emergency information, sign up for the emergency information listservCodeRed Alerts or follow Skagit County on Twitter @SkagitGov. The River Level Hotline (360- 416-1404) and www.skagitcounty.net/flood are updated frequently during events with current conditions and can be resources for information as well.


Better Lung Health Begins at “I Quit”

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For over 40 years, the American Cancer Society has hosted the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November. This is an opportunity for people who smoke to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives. According to recent data, about 34 million American adults still smoke cigarettes. It remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths each year, representing about 1 in every 5 deaths.

While the rates of cigarette smoking have declined over the past several decades (from 42% of the population in 1965 to 14% in 2019), the gains have been inconsistent. Some groups smoke more heavily or at higher rates and suffer disproportionately from smoking-related cancer and other diseases. These populations tend to be those who experience inequities in multiple areas of their lives, including those at lower socioeconomic levels, those without college degrees, American Indians/Alaska natives, African American/Black communities, LGBTQ+ communities, those in the military, and those with behavioral health conditions.

Addiction to nicotine in cigarettes is one of the strongest and most deadly addictions out there. Thankfully, no matter your age or how long you’ve been smoking, quitting can improve your health both immediately and over time. People who use tobacco products are strongly advised to use proven cessation methods to quit, such as prescription medications and counseling. Also, research shows that people who smoke are most successful in their efforts to stop smoking when they have support, including getting advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

And if you’ve heard that switching to vaping can help in your cessation journey, know this: vaping, or use of e-cigarettes, is not a proven way to quit tobacco. In fact, e-cigarettes with nicotine are tobacco products, so if you vape nicotine, you are still using tobacco. Most people who try to quit smoking by vaping are not able to completely switch, which—according to the U.S. Surgeon General—is the only way to achieve the health benefits of quitting smoking.

Giving up smoking is a journey. It can be hard, but you can increase your chances of success with a good plan and support. Getting help through counseling and medications doubles or even triples your chances of quitting successfully. Thankfully, there are many resources available to Washingtonians when it comes to tobacco cessation. Here are some helpful resources to get you started on your cessation journey:

  • Quitline: Washingtonians age 13+ can also call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to speak confidentially with a Quit Coach in English, Spanish, or receive support in more than 200 other languages.
  • This is Quitting (TIQ), from Truth Initiative: This is an innovative text-to-quit vaping program for young people ages 13-24. TIQ helps motivate, inspire, and support young people throughout the quitting process. When young people join TIQ, they will receive proven tips and strategies to quit and stay off e-cigarettes and vapor products from other young people just like themselves who tried to quit. To enroll, teens and young adults can text VAPEFREEWA to 88709.
  • 2Morrow Health: This is a smartphone app that helps participants learn new ways to deal with unhelpful thoughts, urges, and cravings caused by nicotine. Participants receive notifications and can track their progress along the way in order to move toward their goal of quitting. The app is available in English and Spanish. Depending on your age and the tobacco product you are trying to quit, you can register for either of the smartphone apps below:
    • Smoking & Tobacco: A program for people who want to quit smoking and/or other tobacco use. A special program for pregnant women is included in this version.
    • Vaping (age 13+): A program for teens and young adults who want to quit vaping. Older adults who want to quit vaping, but who do not smoke, can also use this program.

It can take several tries to quit for good, but the more times you try to quit, the more likely you are to succeed on your next try. So, remember: Never quit quitting.

For more information on how to quite, go to: https://www.doh.wa.gov/youandyourfamily/tobacco/howtoquit.


Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine Now Available at the Fairgrounds

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November 3, 2021

Skagit County Public Health is ecstatic to announce that pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now available at its drive-through Testing and Vaccine Site at the Fairgrounds. This announcement follows the FDA’s endorsement on October 29, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimous vote on November 2, and the subsequent support of the Western States Scientific Review Workgroup and the Washington State Department of Health.  

Children are not immune to this virus and the great challenges it poses to everyday life. The CDC’s latest data show that 172 children ages 5 to 11 have died from COVID-19 and more than 8,300 have been hospitalized. Science also does not yet know the long term impacts children could face from having contracted and recovered from COVID-19.

“In Skagit County, approximately 25 percent of all our COVID-19 cases between September 5 and October 23 were in school age children. Pediatric vaccines will be a game changer in our fight against this virus.”

Howard Leibrand, Skagit County Health Officer

Pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available to children 5-11 years old at the Fairgrounds by appointment only. Parents and caregivers can now make an appointment by going to https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/ and searching for “Skagit County Public Health” under Name of Location. Appointments are limited at this time. If, when you search, there are no appointments available, please check back the following Monday around 12:00pm.

Parents/caregivers may also check with other providers about availability. For a full list of local vaccination providers, go to Vaccine Locator or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #.

The Fairgrounds is located at 501 Taylor Street in Mount Vernon and operates on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 3pm to 7pm. Parent/guardian consent to vaccinate is required for all dependent minors and must be provided in-person at the time of the appointment.

COVID-19 vaccines are provided at no-cost, and no insurance required. For more information about the site, go to: www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine or call (360) 416-1500.


Holiday Operational Changes at the Skagit Fairgrounds Testing & Vaccine Site

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November 3, 2021

The Skagit County Fairgrounds Testing and Vaccine Site at 501 Taylor Street in Mount Vernon operates on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 3pm to 7pm. During the months of November and December, the site will be closed on the following dates:

  • Thursday, November 11th (Veteran’s Day)
  • Thursday, November 25th (Thanksgiving)
  • Friday, November 26th (Thanksgiving)
  • Friday, December 24th (Christmas Eve)
  • Friday, December 31st (New Year’s Day)

In lieu of these dates, the site will be open on the following days from 3pm to 7pm:

  • Wednesday, November 10th
  • Wednesday November 24th
  • Wednesday, December 22nd
  • Wednesday, December 29th

These dates have been added to ensure that vital vaccination and testing services remain available during the busy holiday season. As a reminder, the Fairgrounds Site should not be used as a testing option for those seeking to travel or attend an event that requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

For a full list of vaccination and testing providers, go to: www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #.


Traveling for the Holidays?

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Holidays bring people together. Last year, many of us chose to come together virtually or in small groups. This year, with vaccination rates above 68 percent amongst Skagitonians 12 and older, we expect that folks will be eager to gather—and even travel once again. So, how do you travel safely? And should you travel at all? Below are some helpful tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

First off, the CDC continues to recommend that only those who are fully vaccinated should travel this holiday season. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.

If you are unvaccinated and MUST travel, the CDC has a list of recommendations below. These recommendations are also for those who have unvaccinated folks in their travel party, including young children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

For Domestic Travel

For people who are fully vaccinated

  • Before Travel:
    • You are not required to get tested or self-quarantine if you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months.
    • You should still follow all other travel recommendations.
  • During Travel:
    • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States.
    • Follow all state and local recommendations and requirements, including mask wearing and social distancing.
    • If travel to an area with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
  • After Travel:
    • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
    • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements.

For people who are unvaccinated

If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, take the following steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Before Travel:
    • Get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your trip. Go here for a list of providers.
  • During Travel:
    • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States The CDC recommends that travelers who are not fully vaccinated continue to wear a mask and maintain physical distance when traveling.
    • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet from anyone who is not traveling with you.
    • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • After Travel:
    • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
      • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
      • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
    • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
    • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
    • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
    • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements.

For International travel

Do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants. If you are not fully vaccinated there will undoubtedly be additional requirements to follow before, during, and after travel.

NOTE: Travel requirements to enter the United States are changing for non-residents, starting November 8, 2021. More information is available here.

What international travelers need to know:

  • Check your destination’s COVID-19 situation and travel requirements before traveling. Countries may have their own entry and exit requirements.
  • When you travel to the United States by air, you are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before you board your flight. The timing of this test depends on your vaccination status and age.
  • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required in indoor areas of public transportation (including airplanes) traveling into, within, or out of the United States and indoors in U.S. transportation hubs (including airports).

For more information about traveling internationally, go to: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel/index.html.

Lastly—and as always: Do NOT travel if you were recently exposed to COVID-19, if someone in your party is sick, you are sick, you test positive for COVID-19, or you are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test. To learn when it is safe (or unsafe) to travel, visit the CDC’s travel page here: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/when-to-delay-travel.html.