For Immediate Release
Sonoma County to lift public health emergency at the end of February
SANTA ROSA, CA | February 16, 2023
Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase announced today that she will lift at the end of the month the local public health emergency that has been in place since March 2, 2020 to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The local emergency will expire on Feb. 28, the same day that Gov. Gavin Newsom has said the state public health emergency will expire.
The end of the public health emergencies come at a time when COVID-19 case rates are low compared with the previous two winters. However, Dr. Mase cautioned that the virus is still circulating in the community and has the potential to sicken anyone.
“The end of the emergency does not suggest that we have eliminated COVID-19 but rather that we are nearing the endemic phase of the virus that has altered so much of our lives for the past three years,” Dr. Mase said. “The variants of COVID-19 in circulation today are not as severe as those of the early days of the pandemic. Armed with widely available vaccines and much more knowledge about the virus, we no longer have to treat COVID-19 as an emergency.”
The end of the local health emergency will come at the same time Sonoma County closes two of its last remaining public vaccination clinics. The Roseland Community Clinic in Santa Rosa will close on Feb. 25 and the Rohnert Park Community Center clinic will close on Feb. 28. However, vaccines and COVID-19 testing will still be available to the public through primary health care providers, federally qualified health clinics and most pharmacies.
President Joe Biden has signaled that he will end the federal public health emergency on May 11.
Another change that the public will notice is that patients insured through Medi-Cal will need to re-enroll after March 31. The pandemic-era law allowing Californians to automatically renew Medi-Cal insurance will expire. It is especially important for those with Medi-Cal to re-enroll since resources such as COVID-19 tests and vaccines that the federal government has subsidized since the start of the pandemic will soon carry an out-of-pocket cost.
The end of the local public health emergency will also be the end of a health recommendation that public meetings include an optional teleconferencing component to encourage social distancing.
For updated information, including COVID-19 vaccine and testing resources available after Feb. 28 visit SoCoEmergency.org. For information on renewing Medi-Cal insurance, visit Sonoma County Human Services Department.