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Weekly Roundup for Dec. 17, 2021

Published:  December 17, 2021

We are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases this week, likely because of holiday gatherings and recent rains and colder temperatures, which means we are spending more time indoors. 

COVID-related hospitalizations in Sonoma County – an increasingly important barometer – are relatively stable with 27 COVID patients hospitalized, including two in ICU beds. Five COVID-related deaths have been reported for November after 11 in October, 25 in September, 38 in August and 17 in July. 

Nearly all of the 416 reported COVID-19 deaths that have occurred in Sonoma County have been unvaccinated residents. In Sonoma County, people who are unvaccinated are 15 times more likely to be hospitalized and 13 times more likely to die from COVID-19. 

It is vital that we use our familiar preventive measures to avoid a surge in cases and hospitalizations. We know what works: Get vaccinated and boosted; wear a mask; increase ventilation; and get tested, especially before any holiday gatherings. Local health officials strongly recommend getting a rapid test before you attend or host gatherings, and always stay home if you’re sick.

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

  1. Update on vaccines & testing in Sonoma County
  2. Booster update: 16- and 17-year-olds now eligible for shots
  3. New state mask mandate; what it means locally
  4. Omicron variant: what you need to know
  5. Helpful guidance for holiday gatherings, travel
  6. COVID-19 community resources & support
  7. Other news items from County of Sonoma

Local Vaccine Distribution & Testing Opportunities

To date, nearly 85 percent of the county’s eligible population is partially or fully vaccinated, including nearly 11,000 of the newly eligible children age 5 to 11.

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/

If you have symptoms or have had a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, you should be tested regardless of your vaccination status. Appointments are strongly recommended as walk-ins are limited. 

Quarantine if you have been in close contact (within 6 feet of someone for a total of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period) with someone who has COVID-19, unless fully vaccinated. 

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/

Local Teens Now Eligible for COVID-19 Boosters

Booster eligibility now includes everyone 16 and older. Only the Pfizer booster is available to 16- and 17-year-olds, but those 18 and older can choose either a Pfizer or Moderna booster six months after their last dose. Anyone who got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine must wait two months after their first dose to get a booster. People can mix-and-match boosters from any company.

To date, 122,177 boosters have been administered in Sonoma County since they were authorized, including more than 65,000 doses administered to residents under age 65.

Read the full Sonoma County press release here:
https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CAO/Press-Releases/Sonoma-County-issues-guidance-on-COVID-19-booster-shots-for-16--and-17-year-olds/

Data on Sonoma County booster doses is available here:
https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/1edbb41952a8417385652279305e878d/page/page_45/

New State Mask Mandate; What It Means Locally

With case rates rising and amid uncertainty over the Omicron variant, California is again requiring residents to wear masks in indoor public settings. The mandate will remain in place for 30 days until at least Jan. 15, 2022. 

Fortunately, the new order only applies to counties that do not already have indoor masking mandates regardless of vaccination status, so the impacts on Sonoma County are limited and no changes are expected to the county’s current masking policies. The amendment announced in October by Sonoma County’s health officer — which allowed some gyms, churches, employers and other organizations to let stable cohorts of fully vaccinated individuals go maskless indoors — remains unchanged.

Read the Sonoma County press release here:
https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CAO/Press-Releases/Masking-rules-unchanged-in-county-under-new-state-requirements/  

Learn more about the new mandate from the California Department of Public Health:
https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/guidance-for-face-coverings.aspx#.YbfS2-8O0hc.mailto

Update on the Omicron Variant

Although we are still dealing with the highly contagious Delta variant, county public health is sequencing all COVID-19 samples and no cases of Omicron have been reported to date. 

However, it is important to note that very little is still known about transmissibility, clinical presentation and disease severity, and risk of infection regarding the new variant. 

Booster doses of both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are likely to offer a substantial increase in protection against the Omicron variant, according to health officials.

At least 39 cases of the variant have been identified in California. While all three U.S.-authorized COVID-19 vaccines appear to be less protective against the Omicron variant in laboratory testing, a booster dose likely restores protection, according to a study released on Tuesday.

Omicron is more infectious than previous variants of concern, including about twice as transmissible as the Delta variant. The true impact of the virus is not always felt immediately, with hospitalizations and deaths often lagging well behind initial outbreaks.

Learn more about Omicron from the World Health Organization:
https://www.who.int/news/item/26-11-2021-classification-of-omicron-(b.1.1.529)-sars-cov-2-variant-of-concern

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 approves initial ARPA allocations for county and community
https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CAO/Press-Releases/initial-ARPA-allocations-for-county-and-community/

 

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