Submitted by: City of Bellingham, written by Deb Slater
Following today’s announcement by both United States and Canadian federal governments that the US-Canadian border may be closing in an effort to curb the spread of novel (new) coronavirus, a Border Task Force has been developed by Whatcom Unified Command.
Members of this task force include Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu, representatives from both U.S. Customs Border and Protection and the Canada Border Services Agency, Point Roberts Fire Chief Chris Charlton, representatives from Governor Jay Inlsee’s Office, Senator Patty Murray’s Office, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell’s Office and PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, in addition to many other stakeholders. The task force met for the first time on Wednesday, March 18 and will continue to meet daily as this situation evolves.
The concerns expressed on the initial call included:
- Point Roberts – making sure residents’ needs are met, including getting a plan in place for school lunches to be delivered from Blaine School District, maintaining public works;
- Healthcare workers who cross the border to get to work; and
- Commercial drivers.
This is another new development in the COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The Border Task Force is committed to working with our partners and members to ensure continuity while protecting our citizens. It is a dynamic and rapidly evolving situation with many concerns to address. As decisions are made on the federal level, the Border Task Force will respond appropriately and as swiftly as possible.
“We are committed to providing the public with thoughtful and accurate information regarding this situation,” said Border Task Force Chair Chief Kevin Hester, of Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.