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Weekly Roundup for October 8, 2021

Published:  October 8, 2021

Greetings Neighbors,

The good news to share this week is that we continue to get more shots into the arms of people, protecting them and the community against COVID-19. We have now administered more than 700,000 vaccine doses, a monumental feat in Sonoma County in less than 10 months.

But we still have work to do to reach every eligible resident. We are now at 77 percent of the eligible population fully vaccinated with another 8 percent partially vaccinated. This means that 15 percent of the eligible population has not received a single dose of the vaccine.

In all, 26 percent of the county’s 494,300 residents have not received any vaccinations for COVID-19, leaving a large segment of the county unprotected. Almost half are children under the age of 12, an age group that is not currently eligible for the vaccine.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is scheduled to meet Oct. 26 to review safety data and consider authorizing shots for children aged 5 to 11. In preparation for a potential decision, the county Department of Public Health and local health leaders are drawing up plans to provide free vaccinations to children as soon as these pediatric vaccinations are authorized

At this point in the pandemic, we have the tools to end COVID, we just need everyone who is eligible to go and get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe, effective, free and widely available. 

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

  1. Vaccine mandate for California schools
  2. Flu shot recommendations
  3. Criteria to lift mask mandate
  4. Guidance on testing
  5. COVID-19 community resources & support
  6. Other county news items
  7. Emergency preparedness tips & resources

VACCINE MANDATE FOR CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS

California will enact the nation’s first coronavirus vaccine mandate for school children, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Friday. The goal is to have all students in seventh through 12th grades vaccinated by next fall once the shots gain final federal approval for everyone 12 and over. The Pfizer vaccine is being administered under an emergency authorization for those 12 to 15.

The state will require students in kindergarten through sixth grades to get the vaccine once final federal approval comes for children 5 to 11. “We have to do more,” Newsom said. “We want to end this pandemic.”

California has mandated since 1995 that school-aged children be vaccinated against 10 vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, mumps and polio.

FLU SHOT RECOMMENDATIONS
Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase has issued a health order requiring workers at certain health care and congregate facilities to get vaccinated against influenza. She issued a strong recommendation that the public, including first responders, get an influenza vaccine this flu season.

  • The flu vaccine requirement applies to all workers who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or residents.
  • Workers include nurses, physicians, technicians, therapists and pharmacists at such facilities as acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, psychiatric hospitals, dialysis centers and dental offices.
  • Workers must be in compliance by Nov. 15.
  • Anyone granted an exemption must wear a surgical mask or respirator at all times while in indoor work settings.
  • Flu season, which lasts from Nov. 1 to May 1, comes as Sonoma County continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Dr. Mase warned of the potential for both viruses circulating at the same time this winter, which could strain local hospital resources.
  • A British clinical trial found no sign of danger in getting a flu shot and a second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine at the same time, results that support the advice of U.S. health authorities.

CRITERIA TO LIFT MASK MANDATE

As decisions to vaccinate and wear face coverings indoors drive down COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations, health officers for the nine Bay Area jurisdictions that require face coverings in most indoor public spaces today reached consensus on criteria to lift those health orders.

These health officers continue to work together across the Bay Area to protect public health with a consistent regional approach, and to plan for the next phase of response to COVID-19 as this wave of the pandemic ebbs.

The nine jurisdictions will lift the indoor masking requirement in public spaces not subject to state masking rules when all the following occur:

  • The jurisdiction reaches the moderate (yellow) COVID-19 transmission tier, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and remains there for at least three weeks; AND
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in the jurisdiction are low and stable, in the judgment of the health officer; AND
  • 80% of the jurisdiction’s total population is fully vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson (booster doses not considered) OR eight weeks have passed since a COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by federal and state authorities for 5- to 11-year-olds

Most Bay Area health departments issued the masking requirements for their respective jurisdictions on August 3, following a summer surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

GUIDANCE ON TESTING

The California Department of Public Health has created a new fact sheet to help Californians understand when they should get tested for COVID-19.

  • Get tested immediately for COVID-19 if you are feeling any symptoms, regardless of vaccination status. COVID-19 symptoms can feel like a common cold (including just “the sniffles”), seasonal allergies, or flu. COVID testing in California is free to anyone who needs it.
  • If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and are not fully vaccinated, get tested right away. If you test negative, retest five to seven days after your exposure date. Those who are unvaccinated should also test before and three to five days after any high-risk events.
  • If you were fully vaccinated when exposed, you should get tested three to five days after close contact with someone who recently tested positive.
  • If you have recovered from COVID-19 in the last three months and have had no new symptoms since your recent exposure, you do not need to get tested.

The White House is planning a billion-dollar investment in at-home rapid coronavirus tests that it says will help quadruple their availability by later this year. By December, 200 million rapid tests will be available to Americans each month, with tens of millions more arriving on the market in the coming weeks, a White House official said today. The changes reflect the administration’s growing emphasis on at-home testing as a tool for slowing the spread of COVID-19.   

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.
  • Listos California offers disaster preparedness information in indigenous languages at its Farmworkers Initiative webpage. 

OTHER COUNTY OF SONOMA NEWS

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS TIPS AND RESOURCES

  • Defensible space is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it. Learn how to build defensible space around your home: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/get-ready/defensible-space/

  • The County of Sonoma strongly recommends subscribing to the following alert and warning systems:
    • SoCoAlert – Upon signing up for SoCoAlert, select to receive alerts through landline calls, cell phone text messages or pre-recorded verbal messages and email. The system also works with telephone devices for the deaf.
    • Nixle – Receive email and text messages from local fire and law enforcement agencies that include public safety messages as well as emergency information. Text your zip code to 888777 to opt-in or sign up online to receive email, text or voice messages with alerts and advisories.
      • Stay informed, sign up for alerts at https://socoemergency.org/receive-alerts/.


       

         

        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