Sonoma Health Officer urges residents to stay home amid omicron surge 

Citing a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant in Sonoma County, health officials announced restrictions on some large gatherings and urged people to travel only when necessary for the next month. 

Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase issued an order prohibiting large gatherings of more than 50 people indoors and more than 100 people outdoors where social distancing can’t be maintained. The order is in effect from 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, January 12 and is scheduled to continue through February 11. 

“Our case rates are at their highest level since the pandemic began and our hospitalizations are climbing at an alarming rate as well,” Mase said in a statement to residents on Monday. “We are seeing widespread transmission occurring within unvaccinated groups as well as some transmission among vaccinated individuals.” 

Mase claimed that among cases where the source of transmission is known, more than half emerged from large gatherings. 

According to Mase, the case rate in Sonoma County has increased from 24.4 per 100,000 per day to more than 121 new cases per 100,000 per day. The county’s test positivity rate also reached 16.5%, a pandemic high. Officials anticipate cases to continue rising through January. 

Gatherings covered by the order include private or public events “that bring people together in a single room or single place at the same time” such as in auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, wedding venues or meeting halls. 

Several exceptions were also listed. 

“Large gatherings do not include those that occur as a part of regular school instructional events or outdoor recess, workplace settings, courthouse activities, places of worship, cafeterias, or any venue that is open to the public as part of regular operations such as shopping malls, stores, restaurants/food facilities and museums,” county officials said in a statement. 

Along with the gathering restrictions, Mase voluntarily urged residents to stay home as much as possible for the next 30 days, recommending travel only to work and school and for necessary trips such as to the grocery store or to the doctor. 

Mase also recommended vaccinations and booster shots to those who have yet to receive them, along with the wearing of surgical masks or higher-quality face coverings such as N95, KF94 or KN95 masks.

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