Emergency

October 21, 2021 3:33 PM

Amendment No. 1 to the Order of the Health Officer of the County of Sonoma C19-25

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Exemptions for Certain Stable Cohorts of Fully Vaccinated Individuals

DATE OF AMENDMENT: October 21, 2021

Please read this Order carefully.  Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.  (California Health and Safety Code § 120275, et seq.)

Frequently Asked Questions »

UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF CALIFORNIA HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTIONS 101040, 101085, AND 120175, THE HEALTH OFFICER OF THE COUNTY OF SONOMA (“HEALTH OFFICER”) ORDERS:

  1. Except as otherwise set forth herein, the Order of the Heath Officer of the County of Sonoma (C19-25) and the July 28, 2021 Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings issued by the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) as may be amended from time to time, continue to apply throughout Sonoma County.
  2. Summary. This Amendment maintains the Order C19-25 requirement that all individuals wear face coverings when indoors in workplaces and public settings, with limited exemptions, and maintains the recommendation that businesses make face coverings available to individuals entering businesses. This Amendment creates an additional exemption to the face covering requirement in certain indoor settings with stable cohorts of fully vaccinated individuals, as defined. Specifically, if an employer, host, or organizer verifies that all individuals are fully vaccinated, individuals in the following indoor settings may be exempt from the face covering requirement: offices, gyms, fitness centers, employee commuter vehicles, religious gatherings, college classes, and other organized gatherings of individuals who meet regularly, provided that all requirements set forth in section 5 of this Amendment are met.
  3. Effective Date: This Order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on October 22, 2021.
  4. Basis. Since March 2021, the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant has been circulating in Sonoma County. This variant is highly transmissible in indoor settings and requires multi-component prevention strategies to reduce spread. Despite high vaccination rates, Sonoma County continues to experience substantial levels of community transmission of COVID-19 due to the Delta variant. The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are among unvaccinated residents.
    Since the Order C19-25 took effect on August 3, 2021, Sonoma County has seen a decrease in the rate of COVID-19 transmission in the community. COVID-19 hospitalizations have also decreased. Sonoma County’s vaccination rate continues to increase. As a result, the Health Officer has determined that the indoor face covering requirement may be lifted in certain indoor settings of certain stable cohorts in which an employer, host, or organizer has verified that all individuals present are fully vaccinated, as defined.
    The Health Officer will continue to assess the public health situation as it evolves and may modify this Amendment, or issue additional orders, related to COVID-19, as changing circumstances dictate.
  5. Exemption from the Indoor Face Covering For Certain Stable Cohorts of Fully Vaccinated Individuals.
    1. In indoor workplaces, gyms, fitness centers, employee commuter vehicles, religious gatherings, college classes, and other organized gatherings of individuals who meet regularly, individuals are exempt from the face covering requirement in Order C19-25 if all of the following circumstances are met:
      1. The host, employer, or organizer has verified that all individuals present are Fully Vaccinated;
      2. There are no more than 100 individuals present, and the group of persons present gathers on a regular basis;
      3. The host, employer, or organizer can control access to the setting, and the setting is not open to the general public;
      4. The host, employer, or organizer maintains a list of individuals present;
      5. The host, employer, or organizer posts signage prohibiting entry by persons who have a cough, fever or other symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19; and
      6. The host, employer, or organizer posts signage prohibiting entry by persons who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, is awaiting results of a COVID-19 test, or had a known exposure to a person infected with the COVID-19 virus within the last 14 days.
    2. Hosts, employers, or organizers shall verify the vaccine status of individuals with one of the following:
      1. The original U.S. Department of Health and Human Services CDC vaccination card issued to the individual following administration of the COVID-19 Vaccine (CDC Card);
      2. The original WHO International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis issued to the individual following administration of the COVID-19 Vaccine in a foreign country (WHO Yellow Card);
      3. A paper photograph or photocopy of the CDC Card or WHO Yellow Card;
      4. An electronic image of the CDC Card or WHO Yellow Card;
      5. A digital copy of the individual’s COVID-19 Vaccine record, obtained through https://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov/; or
      6. Medical record from a licensed healthcare provider that the individual is Fully Vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine.
    3. In the absence of knowledge to the contrary, hosts, employers, or organizers may accept the documentation presented in subsection (b) above as valid.
    4. Hosts, employers, or organizers operating under this section shall maintain all paperwork on file for a minimum of 30 days by an authorized representative of the Health Officer.
    5. This exception does not apply to any facility where individuals are required to wear face coverings indoors, regardless of COVID-19 Vaccine status, according to federal or state law, regulation, or order.
  6. Definition. For purposes of this Amendment:
    “COVID-19 Vaccine” means a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 that is (1) administered under an emergency use authorization from the FDA; (2) approved by the FDA; or (3) listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization.
    “Fully Vaccinated” means an individual’s status two weeks following the individual’s receipt of a single-dose COVID-19 Vaccine or the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 Vaccine.
  7. Obligation to Follow Stricter Requirements of Orders. Where a conflict exists between this Amendment and Order and any state or federal orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most restrictive provision (i.e., the more protective of public health) controls.
  8. Severability. If any provision of this Amendment to the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held to be invalid, the reminder of the Amendment, including the application of such part or provision to other persons or circumstances, shall not be affected and shall continue in full force and effect. To this end, the provisions of this Amendment are severable.
  9. Copies; Contact Information. Copies of this Amendment shall promptly be: (1) made available at the County Administration Center at 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa CA 95403; (2) posted on the County Public Health Department website (https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Public-Health/) and (https://socoemergency.org/); and (3) provided to any member of the public requesting a copy of this Amendment.

IT IS SO ORDERED:

Dr. Sundari R. Mase, MD MPH

Health Officer of the County of Sonoma

Frequently asked questions

Masks must be worn, regardless of vaccination status, in public indoor settings in Sonoma County under a health order issued on Aug. 3. A health order issued on Oct. 21 by County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase permits some exceptions to the order.

If an employer, host, or organizer verifies that all individuals are fully vaccinated, individuals in the following indoor settings may be exempt from the mask requirement: offices, some gyms and fitness centers, employee commuter vehicles, religious gatherings, college classes, and other organized gatherings of individuals who meet regularly.

Since the indoor face covering requirement took effect on Aug. 3, Sonoma County has seen a decrease in the rate of COVID-19 transmission. COVID-related hospitalizations have also decreased. Sonoma County’s vaccination rate continues to increase. The county health officer determined the mask restriction could be safely eased in certain public settings where all individuals are fully vaccinated.

Yes. The number of people could not exceed 100 individuals who are all vaccinated and gather on a regular basis. The goal is to provide relief and flexibility to smaller operations and groups.

The employer, host or organizer would have to maintain a list of names of everyone present, control access and verify everyone is fully vaccinated.

The new indoor masking modification exempts certain “stable cohorts of fully vaccinated individuals.” Those are groups of fully vaccinated people who gather regularly, whether at work or in other settings.

The key to the new exemption is “stable cohorts” of fully vaccinated individuals. In these selected settings, there is little-to-no variation of the daily make-up of those present. However, this new exemption may not work for each setting listed above.

For example, some local gyms do not restrict access to current members only, and, instead, offer easy access via drop-in fees or day/week pass memberships. Other fitness centers are within a community center environment where young children who are ineligible to be vaccinated are present. In both scenarios, the exemption would not apply.

Hair and nail salons are not eligible for the exemption because they have different people coming in each day. The setting should not be accessible to the general public.

No. The requirement to wear masks in indoor settings still applies to restaurants, retail stores, salons/barbershops, and other indoor business environments where members of the public rotate in and out on a daily basis. The new exemption only applies to those settings where there is a known and stable cohort of people inside.

Overall, there are very few exemptions to wearing a mask indoors. When in doubt, wear a mask.

The onus will be on the employer, host or organizer to follow the guidelines.

The host, employer, or organizer must post signage prohibiting entry by persons who have a cough, fever or other symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19. They also must post signage prohibiting entry by anyone who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, is awaiting results of a COVID-19 test, or had a known exposure to a person infected with the COVID-19 virus within the last 14 days.

No. This is an opt-in exemption to the face covering health order.

The exemption became effective on Oct. 22, 2021.

No. This exception does not apply to any facility where individuals are required to wear face coverings indoors, regardless of COVID-19 vaccine status, according to federal or state law, regulation, or order. Where a conflict exists between this order and any state or federal orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most restrictive provision (i.e., the more protective of public health) controls.

Sonoma County and eight other Bay Area counties on Oct. 7 announced they will lift the indoor masking requirement in public spaces not subject to state masking rules when all the following occur:

  • The jurisdiction reaches the moderate (yellow) COVID-19 transmission tier, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and remains there for at least three weeks.
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in the jurisdiction are low and stable, in the judgment of the health officer.
  • 80 percent of the jurisdiction’s total population is fully vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson (booster doses not considered) OR eight weeks have passed since a vaccine has been authorized for emergency use for 5- to 11-year-olds

If/when the local masking order is lifted, unvaccinated residents will still need to wear masks in indoor public settings under the state’s face-covering order.

Individuals are not required to wear face coverings if they are:

  • Working alone in a closed office or room.
  • Actively eating and/or drinking.
  • Swimming or showering in a fitness facility.
  • Obtaining a medical or cosmetic service involving the head or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.

In addition, the State Face Covering Guidance exempts the following individuals from wearing masks:

  • Persons younger than two years old. Very young children must not wear a mask because of the risk of suffocation.
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask, including persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance.
  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.

Unfortunately, no. To qualify for the additional exemption outlined in the October 21 public health order, the entire cohort that will be together in the indoor setting must be fully vaccinated (14 days after completing a two dose Pfizer/Moderna vaccine, or one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine). It is an all or none approach: the exemption does not permit mixing of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, including unvaccinated children.

The employer/host/organizer should maintain all paperwork on file for a minimum of 30 days, in the event one of the individuals present is the subject of a public health investigation (for example, tests positive as a COVID-19 breakthrough case, or was meaningfully exposed to a COVID-19 case and may have exposed others at your setting). In that scenario, Sonoma County Public Health may ask for records to understand if others need to be contacted as part of the public health investigation.