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Weekly Roundup for September 17, 2021

Published:  September 17, 2021

A new federal study of more than 600,000 COVID-19 cases between April and July shows that unvaccinated individuals are 4.5 times more likely than vaccinated individuals to become infected with the virus, 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die from the disease.

The good news for Sonoma County is that new cases have dropped by nearly 60 percent since the first week of August and hospitalizations are also declining. As of Tuesday, 51 COVID-19 patients were in Sonoma County hospitals compared to 84 a month ago. This includes 17 patients in ICU beds, down from 24 a week ago. Unvaccinated individuals account for most COVID-19 patients in local ICUs.

Eight COVID-related deaths have been reported so far in September, following 33 in August and 16 in July. The county reported one COVID death in May and four in June. In Sonoma County, 633 cases of the Delta variant have been identified.

Our main priority continues to be getting first doses to eligible residents and our vaccination rate has increased since July. Nearly 360,000 county residents have received at least one dose, with an average of 972 doses administered a day over the past 30 days, compared with 737 doses a day in July. This means 83 percent of our 12 and older population is fully or partially vaccinated.

Visit the County of Sonoma’s COVID-19 Data and Statistics hub for more information:
https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/1edbb41952a8417385652279305e878d/page/home/

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

  1. New vaccine requirement for large employers
  2. Update on the status of in-person school
  3. Upcoming COVID-19 vaccine clinics and expanded testing
  4. Update on vaccine booster shots
  5. COVID-19 community resources & support
  6. Other county news items
  7. Emergency preparedness tips & resources

New Vaccine Requirement for Large Employers

President Joe Biden announced last week that all companies with more than 100 employees will need to require vaccination or weekly testing. The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is in charge of formulating and enforcing the rule, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks and will affect 80 million workers nationwide.

Roughly 17 million health care workers employed by hospitals and other institutions that accept Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement will also face strict new vaccination requirements. Biden will use the Defense Production Act to increase the production of rapid testing kits and said he would work with retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, to expand their availability.

The federal employee mandate will apply to employees of the executive branch and all federal agencies and members of the armed services, but not to those who work for Congress or the federal court system. Federal employees have until November 22 to be fully vaccinated.

Details of the president’s Path out of the Pandemic Plan:
https://www.whitehouse.gov/covidplan/

Update on the Status of In-Person School

The County of Sonoma, in collaboration with the Sonoma County Office of Education, is implementing measures to keep our schools as safe as possible with the resumption of in-person instruction. 

There have been 330 COVID-19 cases in county schools since classes started in August. Of these cases, 305 are students and 25 are staff members. 

That represents:

  • 193 cases in elementary schools
  • 54 cases in middle schools
  • 82 cases in high schools
  • Seven exposures have been linked to school sports 

How COVID-19 cases at schools are handled is determined by the number of cases involved and exposure. Clusters of three or more cases at a school are an indication that spread may be happening on campus. When cases arise, exposure will be tracked through contact tracing and testing as necessary. 

Universal masking means that classrooms and schools will not be closed for a few cases through the use of a modified quarantine protocol and reporting when students or staff test positive for COVID-19. If parents do not feel comfortable with in-person instruction for their child, they can opt for an independent study program, which will vary be district. 

Please visit the Sonoma County Office of Education for more information:
https://www.scoe.org/pub/htdocs/coronavirus.html

COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics & Expanded Testing

The County’s vaccine clinics page is continually updated including a pop-up calendar to make it easier to see what clinics are operating each day, where they are located and how to make an appointment. 

Getting the vaccine remains our best defense against the worst outcomes of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death. 

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

In response to a surging demand in testing, the County Department of Health Services has boosted capacity to 17,000 tests per week. Appointments are strongly recommended as walk-ins are limited. 

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/

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

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. 

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.

People who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms.

Update on Vaccine Booster Shots

President Biden has proposed vaccine boosters for health workers, nursing home residents and other older adults who were vaccinated eight months ago or more. Notwithstanding, the county’s main priority continues to be getting first doses administered to all eligible residents, even if booster shots are approved by the FDA and recommended by the CDC for the general population.

In Sonoma County, about 10,000 residents who received the Pfizer vaccine would be eligible to receive a third dose starting on September 20. About 40,000 more residents would become eligible in October. 

Currently, third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for patients who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. If you are not sure whether you qualify for a third dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, please consult with your primary care physician.

For this group, these are additional doses and not booster shots. The additional dose is intended to improve response to the initial vaccine series among immunocompromised people. This is not the same as a booster dose, which is given to people when the immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have waned over time.

For more information, please visit:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html
   

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. 
  • Information for businesses: SoCoLaunch.org.  

Other County of Sonoma News

Emergency Preparedness Tips and Resources

  • As we continue into fire season, make sure you know your official evacuation zone. Click on the link for County of Sonoma here:
    https://socoemergency.org/get-ready/evacuation-map/
  • Reminder to prevent equipment sparked fires due to lawn mowing, trailer chains, or driving on dry grass or brush, or with low tire pressure. For additional CAL FIRE information on equipment safety, please visit: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prevent-wildfire/equipment-use/.
  • Hot weather is here and everyone is at risk for heat-related illness. Stay hydrated, limit your time outdoors, and check in on those who are susceptible to heat-related illness. Here are some tips to stay cool and preparing for a heatwave:
    https://socoemergency.org/get-ready/local-hazards/heat-advisories/
  • 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