Sonoma County bans large gatherings, advises residents to shelter in place for next 30 days

Sonoma County bans large gatherings – more than 50 people indoors or 100 people outdoors – and recommends all residents shelter in place and avoid contact with people outside their homes. over the next 30 days to help slow an omicron-fueled coronavirus wave, health officials said Monday.

The ban goes into effect Wednesday at 12:01 am and will be in effect until February 11. Residents have not been ordered to shelter in place, but the county has appealed to stay in their homes as much as possible.

Sonoma County is the first in the Bay Area to reinstate the ban on gatherings and to issue new stay-at-home recommendations in response to the omicron push. Shelter-in-Place orders were used statewide before vaccines became widely available to curb the spread of the disease, particularly during the first wave of the disease in March 2020 and during the outbreak of the disease. last winter.

The directive comes as the county, along with the rest of the Bay Area, is beset by a massive spike in coronavirus cases which health officials say threatens hospital capacity. In the past two weeks, the county’s case rate has quintupled – to more than 121 cases per day per 100,000 population – and is expected to continue to climb. Its rate of positive tests reached a record high of 16.5%; the previous record was 9.7%.

“Our case rates are at their highest level since the start of the pandemic and our hospitalizations are also increasing at an alarming rate,” Sonoma County health official Dr Sundari Mase said in a statement. “We are seeing widespread transmission among unvaccinated groups as well as some transmission among vaccinated individuals.”

Hospitalizations for COVID in the county fell from 28 on January 3 to 76 less than a week later. At the height of the wave last winter, around 100 people were hospitalized. Health officials said the models suggest that without further mitigation efforts, hospitalizations in this outbreak could exceed 380 per day.

“We know what we need to do to keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” Mase said. “The next 30 days will be critical in helping us stop this rapid spread of this highly contagious variant in our community. “

For the next 30 days, residents are advised to leave their homes only for essential reasons, such as going to work or school, running errands, or seeking health care. The decree specifies that for people at high risk of serious illness from COVID, gatherings should be limited to 12 people, with the exception of family groups.

Gatherings are defined as any large group meeting in places such as auditoriums, gymnasiums, stadiums, arenas, conference or wedding halls, or other indoor or outdoor meeting space.

The ban does not apply to people in schools, workplaces, places of worship, cafeterias or other places currently open to the public such as museums or shopping malls.

The ban on gatherings came in response to a high proportion of cases relating to large gatherings. Of the cases where exposure to the coronavirus could be determined, more than half were from large gatherings, health officials said.

Erin Allday is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @erinallday

Sara H. Byrd