Whatcom County April 13th:


The Whatcom County Health Department  is overseen by the County Health Board.  The County Health Board is made up of the seven elected County Council.

The Fourth Corner also reported Councilman Byrd’s concerns on transparency in this article dated March 21st.

Update April 12th

Councilwoman Kershner has also expressed the following after meetings and intake from Health and other officials:

“I understand there may not be an answer to every question, that we may not know the answer, and/or staff have not had the time to address these questions.  I am doing my best to understand our current situation, not get in the way of the day-to-day operations, and be prepared to move quickly if/when items come to the council that must be acted on in a timely manner.  I appreciate all the work that is being done by the many, many people who have been working non-stop on the response to this crisis.”

Councilwoman Kershner was asked by the Executive to submit her question to the Health Department.

Erika Lautenbach is the recently appointed Whatcom County Health Director as of March 18th(The Fourth Corner was advised that this was going to occur because of retirement changes.)  Samples of questions and answers are listed below the full list of questions and answers is here.


You decide are our elected officials in Whatcom County getting the information they need from public officials in this situation?


Samples of Questions by Kathy Kershner

6.  My access to IAP-V6 was recently revoked.   Why?  I would appreciate my access restored.  Thank you. I learned from U(nified) C(ommand) that only people who are on the UC org chart will have access. 

11.  What sources of data is the Health Director using to make decisions?  I’m not clear on the intent of this question.  I am an epidemiologist and public health professional, and take my role in providing sound and science-based decisions seriously.

The Fourth Corner uses the Whatcom Health pages here: the Whatcom County Health Department.

A related article on Washington Counties transparency is here…


  1. I don’t understand why the health department is not transparent with the citizens in Whatcom County. I contacted them and asked for information on how many positives there are for my community just in case I need to curb my going to the grocery store etc. At that point the health department reduced their information even more. Well this is totally unacceptable!

  2. The responses do not answer the questions. Question 6 about the the council members’ access to information being revoked is a red flag; if the people who oversee the department do not have access, then how can they do their job? Who claims the authority to deny access to the council?

  3. The HD is not helpful. Called to find help for someone who can’t go home, but has symptoms. Was told they needed to go home or get a hotel room, (as though that’s possible when jobs are lost) and self quarantine. No need to test, just assume you have it. . The person I was trying to help says he know at least 50 people in WC in his situation. Living in cars, shopping for food and drink as needed.
    Whatcom county has tested less than 1,500 people since testing started. Where are the tests?

  4. Ms. Kershner’s questions and the answers she received were not very helpful to the average citizen. I have been following the daily stats on #positive and #negative test results in the County as well as the number of deaths. I had some questions about the data and emailed them to WC Dep’t of Health. Here’s what I was told (and this is the 2nd time in the past month that I’ve been told essentially the same thing: Info. about negative test results was delayed due to constraints with DOH reporting tools.(whatever that means); I was cautioned against interpreting results of testing info as an indicator of overall presence of the virus because of the limitations on testing materials; current turnaround time for getting test results is anywhere from 24 hours to 5-7days! Again, limited testing supplies in our area is blamed for this! Here are my questions: If we can’t rely on the data for the DOH to see how prevalent the virus is in Whatcom County, where are we supposed to find out? From what I can see based on traffic and the number of people shopping at various stores, particularly Home Depot, most people are not taking this seriously in Whatcom County. At this point, how could there possibly be a shortage of testing materials and, if that’s the case, who is trying to do anything to ameliorate that situation? How could 5-7 days turnaround time be acceptable for getting test results, particularly this late in the game and what is being done to change that? People are being advised not to be tested if they have symptoms that are manageable at home. How can we have any accurate idea about the prevalence of the virus in our county if people are being discouraged from being tested unless they require medical intervention? I’d love to know what ANYONE is doing to deal with and correct these problems! Help!


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