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Weekly Roundup for Dec. 23, 2021

Published:  December 23, 2021

We hope that you and your loved ones are celebrating a safe and happy holiday season.

An increase in COVID-19 cases is expected by Sonoma County health officials as the Omicron variant takes hold and because of holiday gatherings. Hospitalizations are being monitored closely with one case of the Omicron variant reported to date in Sonoma County. Omicron accounted for 73 percent of new infections in the U.S. last week, whereas two weeks ago, the CDC said Omicron accounted for just 1 percent of U.S. cases.

To date, 22 COVID patients are in Sonoma County hospitals, including five in the ICU. It is important to remember that being fully vaccinated and boosted means you are still protected against the worst outcomes of COVID, including due to the Omicron variant, such as hospitalization and death. 

It is vital to use our trusted preventive measures to do what we can to minimize a surge in cases and hospitalizations. We know what works: Get vaccinated and boosted; Wear a good, well-fitting mask; Increase ventilation; Stay home if you’re sick; and get tested, especially before any holiday gatherings. 

The unvaccinated still account for most hospitalizations and nearly all deaths. In Sonoma County, people who are unvaccinated are 15 times more likely to be hospitalized if they get COVID, and 13 times more likely to die here from COVID-related illness.

Today’s digest provides helpful and important updates on the following:

  1. California announces booster mandate for health workers
  2. Updated local order requires quarantine when exposed to COVID-19
  3. CDC issues new vaccine recommendation
  4. Update on vaccines & testing in Sonoma County
  5. Helpful guidance for holiday gatherings, travel
  6. COVID-19 community resources & support
  7. Other news items from County of Sonoma

California Announces Booster Mandate for Health Workers

California announced new booster requirements and testing measures as the Omicron variant becomes the dominant COVID-19 strain in the nation. The booster requirement for health care workers is intended to mitigate potential staffing shortages while helping to safeguard the state’s hospital capacity and protect the health and safety of Californians. 

Combined with the new federal policies announced Tuesday, these actions are expected to help ensure everyone in California has access to testing throughout the holiday season and that K-12 public school students can return to school safely.

By Feb. 1, health care workers and all employees in high-risk congregate settings, including nursing homes, will be required to get their booster. In the interim, all health care staff that have not received their booster must test for COVID-19 twice weekly until they are up to date on their vaccines.

To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our schools, the state is also increasing the availability of at-home COVID-19 tests so K-12 public-school students can be tested as they return to school from winter break. In early December, the California Department of Public Health distributed about 2 million tests to schools for this purpose. CDPH will expand those efforts by providing 1 to 2 rapid tests for every student. CDPH will work with local education and health partners to distribute those test kits as quickly and efficiently as possible.

To ensure every Californian has access to testing, the state will also be expanding antigen test availability and expanding hours of operation at state-sponsored OptumServe sites that are already at capacity. The state has established 6,288 testing sites statewide over the course of the pandemic, 31 percent of the nation’s testing sites.

Since August, the state has purchased 12 million over-the-counter tests. The state health department is distributing an additional 6 million tests to community partners serving disproportionately impacted Californians and 4 million to local health jurisdictions.

Read the full press release here:
https://www.gov.ca.gov/2021/12/22/governor-newsom-announces-new-actions-to-protect-californians-from-covid-19/

Additional information related to the governor’s announcement:
https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Governor-Newsom-Announces-New-Actions-to-Protect-Californians-from-COVID-19.pdf

Updated Local Order Requires Quarantine When Exposed to COVID-19

Sonoma County health officials recently updated quarantine rules to include people who have had exposure to a known or suspected COVID-19 case. The revised order supersedes previous health orders and requires anyone, fully vaccinated or not, who has had close contact with a person who has or is likely to have COVID-19 to follow established quarantine instructions. An second new order addresses isolation measures for those who test positive. 

Key information:

 

  • Quarantine slows the spread of COVID by restricting the movement of those who might be infected so that they cannot infect others.
  • Close contact occurs when a person is within 6 feet of someone who is a known or suspected COVID-19 case for a cumulative 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
  • Even if they are not experiencing symptoms, people who have had close contact must quarantine for 10 days, unless they get a negative COVID test on day five or later. In that case, if they remain symptom-free, they can end quarantine after day seven, though they must continue to monitor symptoms for 14 days.
  • Those quarantined must stay in their home or another residence for the specified period except to receive medical care or during an emergency. If they become sick with a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms, they should isolate themselves from others at their home.
  • Some of the exceptions to this order include first responders and health care professionals. Under certain circumstances, first responders that are asymptomatic, considered essential to workplace operations, and follow other testing and monitoring protocol, can return to work after close contact.

Read the revised quarantine health order here:
https://socoemergency.org/order-of-the-health-officer-of-the-county-of-sonoma-no-c19-31-i/

Read more about quarantine instructions here:
https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/quarantine-instructions/

Read the revised isolation order here:
https://socoemergency.org/order-of-the-health-officer-of-the-county-of-sonoma-no-c19-31-q/

Vaccine Update: CDC Recommends Pfizer, Moderna Over J&J

There are currently three different COVID-19 vaccines available to the public. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has full FDA approval for persons ages 16 and older, and emergency Use Authorization for use in persons 5 to 15 years of age. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been approved by the FDA for emergency use. 

However, the CDC recommends the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines as preferred options to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when possible due to increasing evidence that Johnson & Johnson’s shots can trigger a rare blood clot disorder now linked to dozens of cases and at least nine deaths in the United States in the last year. The risk was greatest among women 30 to 49, estimated at 1 in 100,000 who had received the company’s shot.

The J&J vaccine is not being removed from the market. It will remain an option for people who are “unable or unwilling” to receive the more popular shots from Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, the CDC said.

Read more about CDC’s updated COVID-19 vaccine recommendation:
https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1216-covid-19-vaccines.html

Local Vaccine Distribution & Testing Opportunities 

To date, nearly 85 percent of the county’s eligible population is partially or fully vaccinated. 

Sonoma County public health leaders, doctors, health care clinics, schools, pharmacies and community groups continue to work together to educate families about the vaccine’s safety and benefits and to ensure vaccines are distributed as quickly, safely and equitably as possible.

There are more than 40 vaccination clinics being held at designated schools throughout the county to serve people who do not have convenient or affordable access to healthcare providers.  

Parents are encouraged to reach out to their pediatrician or a local pharmacy to find a vaccine for their children. Pharmacy appointments can be made through Myturn.ca.gov.  

A list of upcoming school clinics is available on the Sonoma County Office of Education website:
https://www.scoe.org/pub/htdocs/school_staff_immunization.html

The County’s vaccine clinics webpage is also continually updated to make it easier to see what clinics are operating each day, where they are located and how to make an appointment. 

Residents who need help making a vaccination or testing appointment may contact the Sonoma County Testing and Vaccine hotline at (707) 565-4667 (4701 in Spanish).

View the vaccine clinics and appointment page here:
https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/vaccine-information/clinics/

For details or appointments at COVID-19 testing clinics, including a pop-up testing calendar, please visit:
https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/testing-and-tracing/

Helpful Guidance for Holiday Gatherings & Travel

People planning to travel and attend gatherings over the holidays should make sure they have proper documents required by some destinations, airlines and events to prove their vaccination or testing status. According to guidance from the CDC, people who are not vaccinated should avoid travel and holiday gatherings. 

Getting vaccinated now is the best way to protect you, your family and your friends from becoming infected with COVID-19 and avoid another surge in cases like we witnessed last year over the holidays.

Obtain a digital copy of your California vaccine record here:
https://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov/ 

If you have lost your vaccine card and your digital record gives you an error, ask your primary care provider to provide you with a copy of your immunization record.

More tips for protecting yourself and others this holiday season:
https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Tips-for-Protecting-Yourself-and-Others-This-Holiday-Season.aspx

COVID-19 Community Resources and Support  

  • Free COVID-19 testing is available for tribal communities at Sonoma County Indian Health Project. Call 707-521-4500 for details.

Other County of Sonoma News

  • Sonoma County designated Bilingual County for purposes of elections

https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CAO/Press-Releases/County-designated-Bilingual-for-purposes-of-elections/

  • Sonoma County and Bay Area health officers urge boosters to protect against Omicron variant

https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CAO/Press-Releases/Health-officers-urge-boosters-to-protect-against-Omicron/

 

Contact Information

Paul Gullixson
Communications Manager
County Administrator's Office
County of Sonoma
Address
575 Administration Drive
Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.464665, -122.725235