According to Mental Health America (MHA), BIPOC communities are significantly more likely to develop mental health conditions, and one of the major barriers to mental health treatment is access and the need for understanding mental health support.
Join us to celebrate Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month! This year’s theme is #BeyondTheNumbers. which explores the nuances and uniqueness in BIPOC communities and celebrates their strengths and resilience.
BIPOC Mental Health Month is not only about raising awareness about the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face regarding mental health in the U.S, but is also about shining a light on their needs, stories, and experiences.
Together, let’s gain knowledge on historical context, systems of support, and actionable ways to move forward toward a mentally healthy future for us all.
Here are some resources to share with your friends, family and colleagues to support the BIPOC community, be a stronger ally, spread awareness about BIPOC mental health to reduce stigma, and encourage people to get the treatment they need.
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized emergency use of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to include use in children 6 months of age and older.
For the Moderna vaccine, the FDA amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) to include use of the vaccine in individuals 6 months through 17 years of age. The vaccine had been previously authorized for use in adults 18 years of age and older. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the FDA amended the EUA to include use of the vaccine in individuals 6 months through 4 years of age. The vaccine had been previously authorized for use in individuals 5 years of age and older.
The FDA’s evaluation and analysis of the safety and effectiveness data of these vaccines was comprehensive and rigorous. Prior to making the decision to authorize these vaccines, the FDA’s independent Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee was consulted and voted in support of the authorizations.
Before these vaccines can be made available, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices must vote on whether to recommend them–a vote is scheduled for this weekend—as well as the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.
When fully authorized, Skagit County Public Health will offer these vaccines at its downtown Mount Vernon clinic at 700 S 2nd Street (3rd floor). To best serve the public and to account for increased demand, all COVID vaccines will be made available at the Public Health clinic by appointment only over the next two weeks.
Please note: Vaccines appointments for this newly authorized group are not yet available at this time. Once Public Health has approval to move forward, appointments will be added to the website at www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine. For those who need assistance scheduling, please call the Public Health office at (360) 416-1500.
To make an appointment with a different vaccine provider, use the Vaccine Locator online tool at https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov/ or call the state hotline at 1-800-525-0127.
Las vacunas COVID-19 para niños de 6 meses a 4 años estarán disponibles pronto
Para el Caso Moderna vaccine, la FDA enmendó la autorización de uso de emergencia (EUA) para incluir el uso de la vacuna en personas de 6 meses a 17 años de edad. La vacuna había sido previamente autorizada para su uso en adultos mayores de 18 años. Para pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, la FDA enmendó la EUA para incluir el uso de la vacuna en individuos de 6 meses a 4 años de edad. La vacuna había sido previamente autorizada para su uso en personas de 5 años de edad y mayores.
La evaluación y el análisis de la FDA de los datos de seguridad y eficacia de estas vacunas fue exhaustivo y riguroso. Paratomar la decisión de autorizar estas vacunas, se consultó y votó a favor de las autorizaciones al Comité Asesor de Vacunas y Productos Biológicos Relacionados independiente de la FDA.
Antes de que estas vacunas puedan estar disponibles, el Comité Asesor sobre Prácticas de Inmunización de los CDC debe votar si las recomienda , una votación está programada para este fin de semana, así como el Grupo de Trabajo de Revisión de Seguridad Científica de los Estados Occidentales.
Cuando esté totalmente autorizado, Skagit County Public Health ofrecerá estas vacunas en su clínica del centro de Mount Vernon en 700 S 2nd Street (3rd floor). Para servir mejor al público y tener en cuenta el aumento de la demanda, todas las vacunas COVID estarán disponibles en la clínica de Salud Pública con cita previa solo durante las próximas dos semanas.
Tenga en cuenta: Las citas de vacunas para este grupo recién autorizado aún no están disponibles en este momento. Una vez que Salud Pública tenga la aprobación para seguir adelante, las citas se agregarán al sitio web en www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine. Para aquellos que necesitan asistencia para programar, llame a la oficina de Salud Pública al (360) 416-1500.
Para hacer una cita con un proveedor de vacunas diferente, use la herramienta en línea Del localizador de vacunas en https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov/ o llame a la línea directa estatal al 1-800-525-0127.
COVID-19 medications are now available through your doctor, local pharmacies, and health clinics. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and test positive, do not wait to get treated. Early intervention with COVID-19 therapeutics can reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization for people with COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing more serious illness.
If you think you might qualify, please speak to your healthcare provider first and get a referral and/or prescription for treatment. Please note that any healthcare provider can evaluate and prescribe you COVID-19 medication just as they normally would.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is medication designed to block a virus from attachment and entering human cells. People 12 years and older may qualify for pre-exposure prophylaxis if persons are:
Not currently infected with COVID-19.
At least 88 pounds (40 kg) in weight.
Moderate to severely immune compromised.
Not recommended by their health care provider to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Please note: Pre-exposure prevention with Evusheld is not a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is recommended.
What are Oral Antivirals?
Two treatments are available: Paxlovid™ (Pfizer) and molnupiravir (Merck). Oral antiviral treatment may help your body fight COVID-19 by stopping the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) from multiplying in your body, lowering the amount of the virus within your body, or helping your immune system. By getting treatment, you could have less serious symptoms and may lower the chances of your illness getting worse and needing care in the hospital. You must take oral COVID-19 medication within 5 days of your first COVID-19 symptoms.
What are Monoclonal Antibody Treatments?
If you are at risk for severe COVID-19 illness and you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, you may want to consider a monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment. You may qualify for a mAb treatment (bebtelovimab) to treat COVID-19 depending on your age, health history, and how long you have had symptoms. A mAb treatment may help people who:
Are at high risk of getting more serious symptoms; and
Have a positive COVID-19 test with symptoms for 7 days or less; OR
Have been in close contact with someone who has recently tested positive.
How much does treatment cost?
Treatment is provided free of charge by the Federal Government, although each provider may charge an administration fee that will be billed to your insurance provider with a possible copay for the patient. If uninsured, call the State COVID-19 Information Hotline for assistance: 1-800-525-0127, then press #.
Across the country, communities are acknowledging, celebrating, and showing appreciation for volunteers on April 17-23rd, 2022 for National Volunteer Week.
Here is an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation:
“Over the past year, we have seen that the American spirit of service is alive and well. Every day, Americans are giving their love and labor to care for seniors, help communities rebuild after disasters, support veterans and military families, tackle climate change, guide and mentor our youth, serve and strengthen the democratic process, feed the hungry, and keep communities healthy and safe. Tens of millions of Americans collectively volunteer billions of hours of their time each year. This commitment to service represents the best of who we are as Americans. During National Volunteer Week, we recognize the contributions that our Nation’s volunteers make every day and encourage all Americans to discover their path to making a difference.” – President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. April 15, 2022
On Monday, April 11th, Skagit County Commissioners gathered and officially proclaimed the entire month of April to be “Volunteer Appreciation Month,” honoring volunteers from across Skagit County. These incredible volunteers dedicated thousands of hours in service, supporting our community’s well-being during these unprecedented times.
April 21st, 2022 marks two years since Skagit County opened its COVID-19 Testing Site at Skagit Valley College. For over two years, volunteers have stepped up, serving on the frontline at the testing and vaccination site, either at Skagit Valley College or the Skagit County Fairgrounds.
Did you know? Skagit County has hosted the longest running, low barrier COVID-19 testing site in the state of Washington —due in large part to the ongoing support of our dedicated volunteers!
Between March 2020 to the present, approximately 270 volunteers have contributed 15,390 hours of service to the County’s emergency response. Each week, volunteers responded to our call for assistance, filling whatever positions needed to be filled, from traffic directors to vaccinators.
In addition to our COVID response, volunteers also helped to staff the Cold Weather Shelter that was opened in Concrete twice during the past winter. This shelter served the community of Concrete (and the surrounding area), saving lives for thirteen extremely cold nights.
“Beloved Community, which requires lasting personal commitment that cannot weaken when faced with obstacles.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
People volunteer for many reasons. Each share their life experience, interests, gifts, and most importantly—their time. We’ve heard so many moving stories over the past two years. For example, one of our Medical Reserve Corps volunteer vaccinators shared how touched she was especially when young children were able to be vaccinated. It was a highly emotional time; parents were filled with relief and appreciation, brave children were being cared for by experienced medical volunteers, tending to each person, one arm at a time.
Skagit County has incredible volunteers and there are so many more opportunities to get involved! One of the best resources for volunteer opportunities is through Skagit Volunteer Center (a division of Community Action). For more information, visit their online portal at Skagit Volunteer Center.
This is an exciting time for our community and volunteers as the County Commissioners support the re-building of Skagit County’s Medical Reserve Corps. This will allow Public Health to establishing a team of medical and non-medical volunteers throughout Skagit County in support of the ongoing COVID-19 response, along with new volunteer opportunities for community outreach, wellness, and preparedness. For more information on Skagit County Medical Reserve Corps, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the beautiful tulips are blooming across Skagit County, let us celebrate the month of April and recognize the courage and flexibility of our volunteers, as well as their many hours of dedicated volunteer service that has helped to keep our beloved community healthy, safe, and moving forward!
Spring season is here and, for several of us, that also means allergy season. Right now, it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether you may be experiencing a cold, COVID, or allergies with the change of season.
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (if you have asthma)
Congestion or runny nose
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Shortness of breath
Loss of taste or smell
Nasal congestion or runny nose
Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Muscle or joint pain
Different types of skin rashes
Nausea or vomiting
As you can see, allergies and COVID-19 share several common symptoms. Even though they look similar, there are some distinctions. If you are not sure if you’re suffering from allergies or COVID, please seek out a COVID-19 test to avoid potentially spreading the virus to others.
When to seek emergency care
If you or someone you know is experiencing trouble breathing, persistent chest pain (pressure in the chest), and skin is looking pale, gray, or blue-colored, please seek medical care right away.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms mentioned above, please feel free to visit us at our COVID-19 Test Site located at the Burlington Cascade Mall for a free COVID-19 rapid antigen test. If you test positive for COVID-19 at home, please stay home and contact your provider. Make sure to monitor and watch for symptoms. For more information check out the CDC website.
Skagit County Public Health will be opening a COVID-19 testing site at Cascade Mall, located at 150 Cascade Mall Drive in Burlington, beginning on Monday, March 14th, 2022. The Fairgrounds testing site closed on Friday, March 4th.
The new site will be located on the east side of the mall parking lot near the old Johnny Carino’s restaurant. Testing services will be available on Mondays and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Public Health will be offering rapid antigen testing, with results typically available between 15-45 minutes. All testing will be conducted via drive-through unless accommodations are requested. Testing services are provided at no-cost and are available to those 5 years of age and older who live, work, or go to school in Skagit County. Individuals no longer need to be symptomatic or have been recently exposed to COVID-19 to access testing services at this location.
“The move to the mall will allow Public Health to right-size our testing services,” said Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director. “Demand for testing ebbs and flows, so we need to be flexible to best serve our community. The new location will allow us this flexibility.”
There continues to be several other testing options available in Skagit County. An updated list of testing providers can be found on our website. Free at-home test kits are also still available through the state and federal governments’ online ordering portals. For those who have not yet ordered their free COVID test kits, please use the following links to order:
Last Thursday, Skagit County Public Health celebrated the over two hundred and twenty volunteers who dedicated their time and expertise to Skagit’s COVID-19 response since the beginning of the pandemic. From the testing site first opening at Skagit Valley College in April 2020, to the move to the Fairgrounds and the incorporation of a vaccination clinic—from closing then reopening again when the Delta variant first hit—these volunteers stuck with the site through thick and thin, rain and shine.
“For me, some of the most meaningful moments came early after the pediatric vaccines were available. The parents were so emotional and grateful for being able to have their children vaccinated at last, for being able to obtain vaccine protection for them, and to maybe even getting back to a more normal life. It was very moving and helped me better understand that what we were doing was an important and valuable service for our community.”
– Fairgrounds volunteer
It takes a very special kind of person to respond to this type of call to action. When the world seemed so overwhelming and there was so much that we didn’t know, a band of dedicated individuals came together to get the testing site up and running. It was amazing to watch these same people coming back week after week, responding to the incredible needs of our community.
Between 2020 and 2021, these volunteers accumulated a total of 14,852 hours of service—a level of community response never seen by our County before. From directing traffic, to administering tests and vaccinations, our volunteers have been the heroes of Public Health’s pandemic response.
As we wrap up operation at the Fairgrounds, and Public Health begins the process of relocating our testing services to a new location, we want—we need—to take this time to highlight our volunteers. Public Health could not have achieved what was achieved over the past two years without these individuals.
To our volunteers: Thank you!Whether you dedicated one, or seven hundred hours, each moment of volunteer service has been sincerely appreciated.
The Skagit County Fairgrounds COVID-19 Testing Site will be relocating after Friday, March 4, 2022, with a new location scheduled to open in mid-March. More information will be available on this relocation by next week.
“A relocation is necessary right now in order to right-size our services,” said Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director. “Making these types of changes can be logistically challenging, so we appreciate the public’s patience as we enter this next chapter in our COVID response.”
There continues to be several testing other options available in Skagit County. An updated list of testing providers can be found on our website. Free at-home test kits are also still available through the state and federal governments’ online ordering portals. For those who have not yet ordered their free COVID test kits, please use the following links to order:
On February 17th, Governor Inslee announced that the statewide indoor mask mandate will be lifted on March 21st, 2022. This mandate, which includes indoor locations such as restaurants, grocery stores, malls, and public-facing offices, has been in effect in some capacity since June 24, 2020. Beginning on March 21st, the mandate will also be lifted for K-12 schools and childcare locations throughout the state.
For many people, this is going to feel like a big change. After all, we’ve been required to wear a face covering for nearly two years now. If you have questions or concerns about this shift in direction—if you are feeling big emotions like frustration, anger, fear, or apprehension—please know that all these responses are valid.
Current Disease Summary
We are still experiencing a level of disease activity across the state that is considered high by the CDC, with case, hospitalization, and death rates still well above what we would have considered “acceptable” prior to the Omicron surge. So, you may ask, why end the mask mandate now?
The governor’s decision is based on science and our current statewide data. While rates are still high, we have been seeing a decrease in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for several weeks now and, as a result, our hospitals are better able to care for patient loads. The date was selected based on our hospitalization trends and where the state predicts we will be in the next several weeks. It has been determined that by March 21st, Washington state will be at a safe level of disease activity, which will allow our hospitals to operate at a sustainable level.
We have also seen similar trends around the globe where Omicron surged before us. Many experts are predicting that the pandemic may be on the way to becoming endemic, meaning most cases will be less severe, and the disease’s impact on society will be more predictable and (in theory) less disruptive.
Another big factor? More than 73 percent of Washingtonians are now at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 and over 2 million boosters have been administered. The large number of people who were infected during the Omicron surge will also likely result in some additional community immunity, at least for the short term. However, because we don’t know yet how long this immunity lasts or have a way to test for it in individuals, vaccination is recommended for everyone, even those who have been previously infected.
Change Will Be A Gradual Process
It is important to remember that change will be gradual. The governor began the process last Friday by lifting the outdoor mask mandate, which included large outdoor gathering and events with more than 500 attendees. Now, folks are free to attend outdoor concerts, street fairs, and farmers markets sans mask—something that many of us wouldn’t have considered doing back in the thick of 2020 or 2021.
The lifting of the indoor mask mandate on March 21st will also not include certain indoor settings considered to be high-risk for disease spread, like healthcare settings, long-term care, and correctional facilities.
Also still in effect is the federal mask mandate that requires masking on all forms of public transportation, including buses, trains, and airplanes, and in transportation hubs. This mandate is still in place, though the White House is reviewing data and may announce changes in the near future.
And though the mandate will be lifted for K-12 schools on March 21st, schools will still be required to report COVID cases and outbreaks and work with local public health departments to monitor disease activity. Routine testing, isolation, and quarantine protocols will also remain in place per the CDC’s guidance.
Feel Empowered to Mask Up
For those who are weary about taking off their mask, please know that Washingtonians can make their own decisions about when it may be appropriate to wear a mask, even after the mask mandate ends. This goes for businesses, as well, which still retain the right to choose stricter requirements.
Those who want or need to wear a mask in public can continue to do so. If you are at greater risk because of factors such as your age or underlying health conditions, you are encouraged to continue to take more precautions. There also may be certain settings where wearing a mask makes sense, like when caring for someone who is high-risk, if you are sick, if you’re in a location where social distancing isn’t possible, or if you are not fully vaccinated.
And if you are choosing to wear a mask in certain settings, you may wonder what mask you should wear. The answer is simple: Wear the mask that you will use consistently—and correctly.
For additional information on Governor Inslee’s announcement, please read the full press release or call the State COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127. For local questions related to COVID-19, you may contact Skagit County Public Health at (360) 416-1500.
This afternoon, Governor Inslee announced that the statewide indoor mask mandate will be lifted on Monday, March 21, 2022. This mandate, which includes indoor locations such as restaurants, grocery stores, malls, and public-facing offices, has been in effect since August 23, 2021. Beginning on March 21, the mandate will also be lifted for K-12 schools and childcare locations throughout the state.
As a reminder, the statewide outdoor mask mandate is scheduled to end tomorrow, Friday, February 18. The state will stop requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for entry to large events beginning on Tuesday, March 1.
K-12 schools will still be required to report COVID cases and work with local Public Health Departments to monitor disease activity. Routine testing, isolation, and quarantine protocols will also remain in place per the CDC’s guidance. Current “requirements” regarding distance, ventilation, and sanitation in schools will be downgraded to “recommendations”, with new guidance expected from the state by March 7.
The lifting of the indoor mask mandate will not include certain indoor settings considered to be at high-risk for disease spread. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, healthcare settings, long-term care facilities, and correctional facilities. Additionally, the federal mask mandate is still in effect and requires masking on all forms of public transportation, including buses, trains, and airplanes, and in transportation hubs.
Following the lifting of the mandate, Washingtonians can continue to wear a mask if they so choose. This goes for businesses, as well, who will retain the right to choose stricter masking requirements if desired.
There may be certain settings where wearing a mask makes sense, like when caring for someone who is high-risk, if you are sick, if you’re in a location where social distancing isn’t possible, or if you are not fully vaccinated. Those who are at greater risk because of factors such as their age or underlying health condition are encouraged to continue to take extra precautions.
For additional information on Governor Inslee’s announcement, please visit wwww.governor.wa.gov or call the State COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127. For general questions related to COVID-19, you may contact Skagit County Public Health at (360) 416-1500.