With the Canadian border hours away from re-opening for non-essential travel, Point Roberts has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Whatcom County District 5 fire Chief Christopher Carleton, who oversees COVID-19 testing and vaccination for Point Roberts, confirmed the uptick in cases via a letter that was published in the All-Point Bulletin. Carelton told the Optimist about 80 residents were tested on Wednesday, one of the two designated testing days each week. Proof of a negative COVID-19 test is required within 72 hours to enter Canada.
Two of the confirmed cases have resulted in the temporary closure of the Point Roberts Marina business office.
“As some Point Roberts residents have already known, Point Roberts Marina has two confirmed cases of COVID-19 despite all in-office employees are fully vaccinated. The two confirmed employees are quarantined at home, the rest of the Point Roberts Marina employees are all tested negative and are tested weekly,” in a letter sent to customers.
“The marina is currently under thorough sanitization and ventilation, and our office will not be open for any physical visits until next week, including our fuel station. In the next few weeks, we will be requiring all visitors to wear masks and have their temperature checked when we re-open.”
Fully vaccinated residents still testing positive for COVID-19 apparently has led to some confusion which Carleton needed to clarify in his letter.
“The vaccine does not prevent you from acquiring the virus completely in some cases,” he wrote. “Vaccinated individuals can still become infected and potentially spread the virus to others even though they are vaccinated. The benefits of being vaccinated are to help you not acquire or spread the virus, help an individual that does become infected with the virus not become seriously ill – experience mild symptoms compared to severe sickness, hospitalization etc. – and it may help protect people around you. Please keep in mind that underlying health conditions can compound symptoms and each individual is different.”
Although Point Roberts’ residents must provide a negative COVID test to enter Canada, they do not have to be fully vaccinated. The Canadian Border Services have made a special exception for three isolated border communities.
"U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are not fully vaccinated and who are habitual residents of Hyder (Alaska), Northwest Angle (Minnesota) or Point Roberts (Washington) will be eligible to enter Canada to carry out everyday functions and access goods and services within their neighbouring Canadian communities, so long as they remain in those communities while in Canada."
Carleton said about 80 percent of Point Roberts residents are fully vaccinated.