Seven Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office employees have tested positive for Covid-19 over the past two weeks, six of whom are law enforcement deputies and one a corrections deputy.
The corrections deputy was working in the Whatcom County Jail before testing positive but there have been no other reported Covid-19 cases in the jail, sheriff Bill Elfo said.
The sheriff’s office could not provide the dates when employees tested positive or the number of people who may have been exposed to the virus by publication. Elfo said those who had been in contact with the people who tested positive were instructed to work from home.
None of the employees who tested positive have experienced serious symptoms, Elfo said. Three of the seven employees who tested positive are working again, and Elfo said their absence did not leave any holes in the field.
“We’ve been able to cover patrol,” he said.
Since last March, Elfo said 11 of the agency’s 204 employees have tested positive for the virus, with the first employee testing positive at the beginning of summer.
“To be honest, we thought we’d see much higher rates of Covid amongst our employees,” he said.
These seven employees tested positive for Covid-19 during a time when the county is reaching record-breaking numbers of daily confirmed cases. As of January 13, Whatcom County had 4,594 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. Nooksack Valley and Lynden school districts saw two-week virus case rates triple and double, respectively.
The sheriff’s office has had staff wear masks, except when in their individual offices or cubicles, and work from home when possible, but Elfo said deputies at times need to work in small groups. The employees who tested positive were likely in contact with each other, he said.
The sheriff’s office could be vaccinated as early as next week with corrections workers and deputies receiving the first doses, Elfo said.
Elfo said he did not know if any deputies who tested positive had been in the Blaine and Birch Bay area when potentially infected.