County Administrator's Office

Weekly Roundup for Jan. 28, 2022

Published: January 28, 2022

While new COVID-19 case rates appear to have peaked this week, local case rates and COVID-related hospitalizations remain at some of the highest levels of the pandemic. On Dec. 1, we were averaging 60 new cases a day (12 per 100,000 residents); on Jan. 1, we were averaging 500 new cases a day. We are still averaging 1,000 new cases per day, down from 1,200 per day last week. Local hospitals and health care providers, along with many local businesses, are dealing with critical staffing issues because so many workers are testing positive or having to stay home to care for children who tested positive. 

People who are unvaccinated still account for most hospitalizations here, especially in our intensive care units. There were 107 COVID-related hospitalizations in the county as of Tuesday, compared with 28 on Jan. 3. Nineteen of those COVID patients were in ICU beds, up from four on Jan. 3 and the highest total since mid-September. Deaths are also increasing, primarily among the elderly. County residents 65 and older have accounted for approximately 75 percent of COVID-related deaths in Sonoma County.

Two recent mitigation measures, including an appeal to residents to limit interactions with those outside of their immediate household, and a health order prohibiting large gatherings of more than 50 people indoors or more than 100 people outdoors – remain in effect through Feb. 11. Both measures are proving successful in protecting our most vulnerable populations in addition to local hospital capacity. 

Importantly, this week county health officials issued a clarification to the health order that limits indoor public events to 50 people. Indoor events can include 50 spectators; the total number of attendees does not include staff involved with the event, media, players or performers. 

The full press release regarding the health order clarification is available here:
https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CAO/Press-Releases/Sonoma-County-clarifies-health-order-to-allow-50-spectators-at-indoor-events/

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

  1. Large vaccine clinics to be held at Sonoma County Fairgrounds
  2. Update on the situation in local schools
  3. How to get rapid tests, N-95 masks for free
  4. What to do if you contract COVID-19
  5. Vaccine & testing clinics in Sonoma County
  6. Rental assistance, mortgage relief available
  7. COVID-19 community resources & support
  8. Other news items from County of Sonoma

Weekend Vaccine Clinics at Sonoma County Fairgrounds 

The County of Sonoma has expanded access to pediatric and adult COVID-19 vaccines and boosters through a series of free large-scale weekend clinics at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. 

Up to 500 vaccines can be administered per day at these clinics, which will be held in the Garrett Building, which is on the east side of the Fairgrounds, accessible from the Brookwood Avenue entrance. 

Clinics will be on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on the following weekends:

  • Jan. 29 & 30
  • Feb. 5 & 6
  • Feb. 12 & 13
  • Feb. 19 & 20 

The eight clinics are open to everyone in the community, and families with children and those 12 years and older who still need their boosters are particularly encouraged to attend. 

Though appointments are not needed, you can guarantee a spot by signing up here:
https://myturn.ca.gov/

Vaccines are free, the clinics are open to all and proof of citizenship status is not required. 

Update on the Situation in Local Schools

The Sonoma County Office of Education and county public health officials held two webinars last week on pediatric vaccines and COVID-19 cases in our local schools. 

The webinars in English and Spanish are available for viewing on the county’s YouTube channel here:
https://www.youtube.com/c/CountyofSonoma

Local doctors and health officials emphasized the safety of vaccines and the importance of parents getting their eligible children vaccinated. There have been 1,347 student cases reported in the county since August and 171 staff cases. 

Public health nurses estimate there have been thousands of additional positive cases among school children since classes resumed after the holidays, with many schools struggling to stay open. Unvaccinated children ages 5 to 17 are being infected at five times the rate of fully vaccinated children. School age children account for 20 percent of new cases here, more than any other age group.

More than 43 percent of the county’s eligible children ages 5 to 11 have received at least one dose since the vaccine became available in November. Twenty-nine percent of those children are fully vaccinated. 

A list of school-based clinics is on the Sonoma County Office of Education website along with information for parents:
https://www.scoe.org/pub/htdocs/school_staff_immunization.html?fbclid=IwAR3vlYwml08vYAokQQzbq2wUMx7HCZ7nXQHNVIql6N3HIbriACc3Z2RKQNk

Testimonial videos by local doctors, parents and students about their experience and the benefits of vaccines are available at the county’s COVID-19 video library:
https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/video-library/

U.S. Moves to Make Rapid Tests, N95 Masks Available for Free

Americans can request four free rapid tests from the federal government, with one billion rapid at-home tests expected to be distributed to Americans. The tests will take seven to 12 days to arrive and each household will be limited to four free tests.

Free rapid tests may be requested here:
https://www.covidtests.gov/

Also, according to a new federal policy, private insurers must cover the cost of eight at-home tests per member per month. The new policy does not apply to at-home tests purchased before Jan. 15, 2022.

Insurance companies, group health plans to cover cost of at-home COVID-19 tests:
https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/biden-harris-administration-requires-insurance-companies-and-group-health-plans-cover-cost-home

How to get your At-Home Over-The-Counter COVID-19 Test for Free:
https://www.cms.gov/files/document/11022-faqs-otc-testing-guidance.pdf

The first shipment of 400 million free high-filtration masks provided by the federal government has gone out to participating pharmacies and community health centers, with more to follow. A limited number of masks are currently available, with more arriving in coming days. 

Nearly all of the pharmacies and community healthcare centers that participated in the government’s free vaccine program have agreed to distribute the free masks, including Rite-Aid, Walgreens and CVS, as well as many independent locations.

Read more from CDC regarding masks and respirators:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/types-of-masks.html

How to tell if your N-95 mask is a fake:
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2021-124/pdfs/2021-124.pdf

Masks for kids: Tips and Resources
https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Masks-for-Kids-Tips-and-Resources.aspx

What to Do if You Contract COVID-19

With many people testing positive these days, and with evolving federal recommendations, there is some confusion about what to do if you have contracted COVID-19. If you test positive, the first thing you should do is isolate yourself for at least five days to protect your health and avoid infecting others. 

While isolating:

  • Stay in a separate room from those not infected.
  • Use a separate bathroom if you can.
  • Wear a mask around others, even at home, and ask others in your home to do the same.
  • Use an N-95, KF-94, or a three-ply surgical mask if possible.
  • Open the windows, when possible.
  • If your residence has an HVAC system, make sure it has a fresh filter.

Get a test on day five, and if it is negative you can end your isolation. The California Department of Public Health recommends a rapid antigen test, not a PCR test, to determine if you can exit isolation. If you can’t get tested, you can end your isolation after 10 days if you don’t have symptoms.

If you used an at-home test, you should report the results to the county health department at (707) 565-4667. Notify close contacts that they’ve been exposed. A close contact is someone who spent at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period within 6 feet of a person who tested positive for COVID-19.

People who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine unless they have symptoms after contact with someone who had COVID-19. However, fully vaccinated people should get tested five to seven days after their exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms.

Unvaccinated people should stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact your health care provider if you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds.

Learn more about home isolation instructions at SoCoEmergency.org:
https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/health-orders/home-isolation-instructions/

Local Vaccine & Testing Opportunities

Vaccination and testing clinics are being held throughout the county to serve people who do not have convenient or affordable access to healthcare providers. 

Visit the Sonoma County Office of Education to learn about clinics for students and families:
https://www.scoe.org/pub/htdocs/school_staff_immunization.html

View the county’s vaccine clinics and appointment page here:
https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/vaccine-information/clinics/

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 test positive using an at-home antigen test are urged to report the result by calling the county’s COVID hotline at (707) 565-4667 (4701 in Spanish). Anyone who needs help making a vaccination or testing appointment may also contact the hotline. 

Rental Assistance & Mortgage Relief Available

As of Jan. 10, the county has distributed $25.6 million to community-based organizations handling applications for rental assistance. Of that, $22.8 million has been distributed. The county has $42.7 million under contract with the community organizations, with $21.5 million remaining to be disbursed.

More information including how to apply is available here:
https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/finance-housing/housing-and-renter-support/

Additionally, California homeowners who have fallen behind on home loans can apply for a state grant to repay missed mortgage payments during the pandemic. The California Mortgage Relief Program covers past due mortgage payments with up to $80,000 per household. It’s free to enroll and funds do not need to be repaid.

Applicants can check eligibility and apply through the online portal here:
https://camortgagerelief.org/

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

 

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