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County Administrator's Office
For Immediate Release

Sonoma County to require proof of COVID-19 booster shot or at least twice-weekly testing for high-risk groups

Testing for un-boosted employees recommended to begin immediately

Santa Rosa,CA | December 23, 2021

In advance of an anticipated winter surge, Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase today issued a health order calling for all employers of fire, law enforcement, emergency medical service workers, pharmacies, dental offices and operators of temporary disaster shelters in Sonoma County to require personnel to get tested at least twice weekly for COVID-19 or produce satisfactory evidence that they have received a booster for COVID-19 (if eligible). At least twice weekly testing for personnel that are unvaccinated or have not received a booster (if eligible) is highly recommended to begin as soon as possible for any employee in these high-risk groups to mitigate the effects of a winter surge in COVID cases. 

On August 4, Dr. Mase issued a health order requiring emergency personnel to show proof of vaccination or submit to regular COVID testing.

The new mandate, which will take effect on Feb. 1, expands a California Department of Public Health order requiring health care workers, adult care facilities and direct care workers, and correctional facility and detention center health care staff to receive booster shots. 

“With variants circulating locally and COVID-19 cases increasing, it is essential that our frontline workers have all the protection available to them,” Dr. Mase said. “Emergency personnel are in routine contact with the public, so getting them booster shots and requiring twice weekly testing if not boosted is the best way to protect them and the community.”

The increased recommendation to test at least twice weekly comes as the highly transmissible Omicron variant dominates COVID-19 cases throughout the nation. Sonoma County discovered the first case of the highly transmissible Omicron variant on Dec. 16. Booster shots increase protection against Omicron and protect against severe illness and hospitalizations.  State modeling suggests that increasing the proportion of the eligible population 16+ with a booster dose will be a critical factor in maintaining hospital capacity this winter.  With a higher combined census of COVID and non-COVID patients this year, hospitals have reduced surge capacity. State projections indicate that Sonoma County may see the number of COVID-19 patients increase compared to last year, unless individuals (particularly older and medically vulnerable residents) receive their booster doses.          

COVID-19 cases have started to increase throughout California. As of today, Sonoma County’s new cases per day per 100,000 residents was 27.3 among unvaccinated individuals and 6.7 among vaccinated residents with an overall case rate of 12.3 per 100,000. There are currently 24 COVID-19 patients in Sonoma County hospitals. Meanwhile, Sonoma County has fully vaccinated 76 percent of residents 5 and older while 46 percent of eligible residents aged 16+ have received booster doses.

Visit www.SoCoEmergency.org for Health Order information as well as vaccination and testing locations. 

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