How to Prepare for the Novel Coronavirus

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Currently, there are no vaccines available to prevent COVID-19 infections.

You can prepare for a possible disruption caused by an outbreak by doing the following:

For Home and Family

Health experts agree that the measures taken have been effective in containing the virus but are predicting that there will be community spread of coronavirus in the United States.  You can prepare for the possible disruption caused by an outbreak:

  • Ensure you have adequate supply of essential medicines. If you can, obtain a two-month supply for your medication or consider using a mail order pharmacy.
  • Prepare a childcare plan if the childcare is not available (including school closures)
  • Staying up to date with trusted resources (e.g., CDC)
  • Think about how to care for loved ones at home if they, or you, get sick – including how to prevent other family members from becoming infected.

Additional Steps to Take

Frequently Asked Questions

Start good hygiene practices now, and begin preparing your family and home over the coming days and weeks.

  1. Practice good hygiene:
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve.
    • Keep your hands clean. Wash hands with soap and water or by using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. And, don’t forget to clean your cell phone, if you use one.
    • Stay away from people who are sick.
    • Do not touch your face (nose, eyes, mouth) because viruses can spread to you when you touch your own mouth, nose or eyes. Meet with household members, other relatives, and friends to discuss what should be done if a pandemic occurs, and what the needs of each person will be.
  1. Plan for how to care for family members if they get sick:
    • Discuss how you are going to care for family members or loved ones if they become ill, including how to protect the ones giving care.
    • Think about a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy. If possible, also choose a bathroom that only the sick person would use. Plan to clean these rooms daily. Learn how to care for someone at home.
    • Identify alternative childcare or consider keeping your children at home.
    • If your neighborhood has a website or social media page, consider joining it to stay connected to neighbors, information, and resources. The County is posting regular messages to its website, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor.
    • Identify organizations in your community that can help. Consider including organizations that provide mental health or counseling services, food, and other supplies.
    • Create an emergency contact list. Ensure that your household has a current list of emergency contacts for family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, and other community resources.
  1. Stock up on recommended supplies:
    • Keep a 2-week supply of food in the home. You do not need to purchase bottled water. Tap water is safe and coronavirus is not transmitted through the water supply.
    • Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home. If you can, have at least a one-month supply of your prescription drugs.
    • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins, and also a thermometer to monitor temperatures of anyone feeling feverish.
    • Ensure a ready supply of cleaning supplies (soap, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizers, bleach, rubber gloves, disposable face masks, tissues, toilet paper, and cold medicines.
  1. Practice self-care to reduce stress:
    • It can be as simple as taking time throughout your day to take a deep breath, connect with a friend or loved one, get adequate sleep, have a cup of tea, listen to music. Here are some other ideas for taking care of mental health during a time of uncertainty: Coping with Stress. If you are experiencing extreme anxiety, call your healthcare provider.

Yes. Coronavirus, a respiratory illness like the flu or cold, is not spread through tap water. Sonoma Water, our drinking water supplier, uses chlorine to eliminate pathogens, which includes viruses. This ensures safe drinking water for all our customers. There are no impacts from the coronavirus to the City’s public water system. Santa Rosa Water’s staff is highly trained and prepared for emergencies and has contingency plans in place to provide water supply.

To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with the coronavirus. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread the coronavirus. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals.

According to the CDC, although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with the coronavirus, it is still recommended that people sick with the coronavirus limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick with the coronavirus. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.

For more information, visit

Yes. Sonoma County Transit cleans and sanitizes its buses each day. Personal protective equipment (e.g., face masks) are available to all drivers. Passengers are encouraged to use CDC personal hygiene guidelines, including through on-board signage. All paratransit buses have hand sanitizer dispensers on board.

People at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others. People at higher risk include:

  • People 60 and older
  • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
  • People who have weakened immune systems
  • People who are pregnant

If someone in your household becomes sick with coronavirus or another respiratory illness, there are several actions you can take to care for them and keep yourself from getting sick.

  • Make sure that you understand and can help the patient follow their healthcare provider’s instructions for medication(s) and care. Help the patient with basic needs in the home and provide support for getting groceries, prescriptions, and other personal needs.
  • Monitor the patient’s symptoms. If the patient is getting sicker, call his or her healthcare provider before you travel to the healthcare provider’s office. This will help staff take steps to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected.
  • When possible, household members should try to stay in another room or be separated from the patient as much as possible.
  • If people do not have an essential need to be in the home, they should not visit while a person is ill.
  • Make sure that shared spaces in the home have good air flow, such as by an air conditioner or an opened window, weather permitting.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. If hands are visibly dirty, using soap and water is preferable.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid sharing household items with the patient. Don’t share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items. After the patient uses these items, you should wash them thoroughly.
  • Each day use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions to clean all high-touch surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly.
  • Wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items and keep soiled items away from your body. Clean your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after removing your gloves.
  • Immediately remove and wash clothes or bedding that have blood, stool, or body fluids.
  • Read and follow directions on labels of laundry or clothing items and detergent. In general, use a normal laundry detergent according to washing machine instructions and dry thoroughly using the warmest temperatures recommended on the clothing label.
  • Place all used disposable gloves and other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other trash. Clean your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after handling these items.
    For the most complete guidance on preventing the spread of coronavirus please visit the CDC’s website at​​​

Social distancing is a way to slow the spread of a virus. Social distancing includes personal things you can do, and larger public health actions that can be taken. In addition to general health precautions, members of the public may take these measures to protect themselves and others:

  • Avoid large public venues such as theaters or sporting events.
  • Postponing or changing social gatherings or events.
  • Stay away from people who show symptoms of an illness.
  • If you work closely to others, try to keep a distance of approximately three feet from the nearest person while at work.
  • Avoid visiting hospitals, long term care facilities, or nursing homes to the extent possible. If you need to go, limit your time there and keep six feet away from patients.

It is important to consider the impact of social distancing on one’s emotional state as this could make some people feel more extreme emotions.  Read more about how to take care of yourself and loved ones’ emotional health when social distancing, quarantine, or isolation is necessary.

When you hear, read, or watch news about an outbreak of an infectious disease such as Coronavirus, you may feel anxious and show signs of stress—even when you are at low risk for getting sick. These signs of stress are normal. In the wake of an infectious disease outbreak, monitor your own physical and mental health. Know the signs of stress in yourself and your loved ones. Know how to relieve stress, and know when to get help. There is a National Disaster Distress Helpline

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline

Toll-Free: 1-800-985-5990 (English and español)

SMS: Text TalkWithUs to 66746

SMS (español): “Hablanos” al 66746

TTY: 1-800-846-8517

Website in English:

Website in Spanish:

California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) may be able to help if you are experiencing a business slowdown or reducing work hours. Consider the Work Sharing Program as an alternative to layoffs. If you plan a closure or major layoffs, get help through the Rapid Response Program, Rapid Response Services for Businesses Fact Sheet (DE 87144RRB) (PDF), or contact your local America’s Job Center of California, the County of Sonoma’s Job Link program. You can read more at:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s unknown if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. It’s always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses.

While it’s still not known if a woman can pass the virus to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery, no infant has tested positive after being born to a woman who tested positive for the coronavirus. In these cases, which are a small number, the virus wasn’t found in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk.

Breast milk provides protection against many illnesses. The CDC recommends that a mother with virus continue breastfeeding or feeding expressed breast milk to her infant while taking precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, via coughing or sneezing. Limited studies show that other, similar viruses aren’t transmitted through breast milk.

Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother in coordination with her family and healthcare providers.

Eating out

Per the current Sonoma County Health Order, issued on March 17, 2020, restaurants are open for delivery, takeout and curbside pick up only. The order was issued as an ongoing effort to mitigate the spread of COVID- 19 in our communities. When picking up your food order, continue safe practices of social distancing of at least 6 feet of another person and washing your hands with soap or using hand sanitizer. 

Fresh produce

The coronavirus can’t live in food, though health experts aren’t sure how long it may last on the surface. As with any fresh fruit and vegetables, wash it thoroughly with water before consuming them. According to Consumer Reports’ testing, there’s no data to suggest you need to wash them with soapy water.When in the grocery store, please practice good hygiene by wiping down your grocery cart handle and using hand sanitizer. Use tongs or available plastic sheets to select breads, pastries or salad bar items. Stay away from people who are sneezing or coughing. Don’t touch any produce that you aren’t going to buy.

The Immigration and Citizenship Service (USCIS) will not consider examinations, treatment, or receiving preventive services related to coronavirus (such as vaccines, if any) as a reason for deportation or to no longer be eligible for legal immigration status.

This will also not impact the condition of public benefits applicable to people asking for an extension of status or change of status, even if treatment is provided or paid for by public office subsidies as defined by the rule as if the service is covered by Medicaid.

In this time of uncertainty, it is very normal to feel anxiety, fear, and a change in our bodily sensations. For survivors of trauma, it can even activate similar responses in our bodies that we felt during the abuse or traumatic event. These feelings will not last forever and you are not alone. Be kind and gracious to yourself.

If you need services at this time, please do not hesitate to reach out to the YWCA of Sonoma County 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline at (707) 546-1234 or Verity’s 24/7 Rape Crisis Line at (707) 545-7273. For restraining order information, call the Legal Aid Domestic Violence Team during business hours at (707) 595-6295. For restraining orders (Emergency Protective Orders or Temporary Restraining Orders) set to expire between 3/16 and 3/31, these have been extended to remain in effect until 4/7/2020.

Yes. Throughout life, we experience many instances of grief caused by situations, relationships, losses, or canceled plans – and the Covid-19 pandemic can create grief on a number of levels. The five stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is important to know that these stages are not linear and some people may not experience any of them. Others might only undergo one or two stages rather than all five.

For support during this challenging time, people can call the National Disaster Distress Helpline at 1 (800) 985-5990 Or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 Or TTY at 1 (800) 846-8517. Services available in English and Spanish.

On March 24, 2020, the Board of Supervisors took action to approve the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Ordinance, effective immediately and for the duration of the declared Local Emergency in Sonoma County. 

This ordinance creates a legal defense for tenants who live anywhere in Sonoma County and  are being evicted due to non-payment of rent and who can demonstrate financial losses due to lost work or medical expenses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

The ordinance requires that tenants who use this defense share that information with their landlord to support claims for any prospective mortgage relief.

The Ordinance will continue for 60 days after the end of the emergency. Rent is not forgiven for tenants with a hardship, but landlords must work with tenants on a rent repayment program that will allow tenants to stay housed during this emergency.

For tenant support and questions about how the eviction ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors may apply to you, contact Legal Aid Sonoma County at (707) 542-1290 or California Rural Legal Assistance at (707) 528-9941.

The Sonoma County Shelter-in-Place order allows you to leave your home to obtain essential or necessary healthcare services at hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, mental health providers, and other healthcare facilities, and also includes veterinary care. Calling ahead to the provider or facility is recommended.

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms or if you have cold/flu symptoms, contact your medical provider before visiting a care facility. If you are sick, do not go to a healthcare facility without first contacting your medical provider. The reason for this is to avoid potentially exposing others.

For any standing or previously scheduled medical appointments/procedures, call ahead to check with your medical provider. Many healthcare providers are now offering tele-health visits instead of in-person visits, which means you can talk with your doctor or provider by phone or online.

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For Higher Risk Populations

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For Schools and Districts

Schools should review their sick leave policies and actively encourage employees and students/staff to stay home if they are sick. Consider not requiring a doctor’s note to return to work/school as healthcare facilities may be severely impacted.

  • Encourage students and staff to stay home when they are sick.
  • Those who have a fever at school should go home and stay home until they have gone at least 24 hours without a fever and without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
  • Students and staff who are ill should be isolated from others, ideally in a separate place, until they can be taken home.
  • Promote hand hygiene among students and staff through education, scheduled time for handwashing, and making soap and water or hand sanitizer available.
  • Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Teach and encourage proper cough etiquette—cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue (do not use sleeve, arm, or hands).
  • Perform routine surface cleaning.
  • Consider not attending large gatherings, as this is where cold, flu, and other respiratory viruses often spread.
  • Get your annual flu shot, which is the best way to protect you from flu; influenza still sickens and kills thousands of people in the US every year.


Frequently Asked Questions

Please note that there have been reports of people being stigmatized and discriminated against as a result of novel coronavirus. All of us can do our part to protect our own health and the health of the community by reminding each other that discrimination is unacceptable and counterproductive to protecting the public’s health.

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The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) has created a frequently asked questions page to keep the public informed about the schools. As with other local organizations, SCOE continues to monitor the situation. This page will be updated as needed during this health emergency.

For Businesses

  • Business and community organizations should review their continuity of operations plans and consider how they will operate if a significant number of employees are unable to work.
  • Businesses should review their sick leave policies and actively encourage employees and students/staff to stay home if they are sick. Consider not requiring a doctor’s note to return to work/school as healthcare facilities may be severely impacted.
  • If your business has been affected by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), check Sonoma EDB for information about your next steps. In partnership with the County of Sonoma and the Department of Health Services, the EDB has compiled a comprehensive list of local, state and government resources and benefits for businesses and employees affected by the emerging situation.

The following was extracted from World Health Organization’s “Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19,” updated March 3, 2020.  For updated information for businesses or other COVID-19 news, please see Rolling Updates on coronavirus (COVID-19) on the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19

In January 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of a new coronavirus disease in Hubei Province, China to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. WHO stated there is a high risk of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreading to other countries around the world. WHO and public health authorities around the world are taking action tocontain the COVID-19 outbreak. However, long term success cannot be taken for granted. All sections of our society –including businesses and employers –must play a role if we are to stop the spread of this disease.

This document gives advice on:

  1. Simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace
  2. How to manage COVID-19 risks when organizing meetings & events
  3. Things to consider when you and your employees travel
  4. Getting your workplace ready in case COVID-19 arrives in your community

Download Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19 »
– World Health Organization, updated March 3, 2020 (PDF: 663 kb)

Coronavirus COVID-19 Guidance for Food Facilities

COVID-19, is part of a class of coronaviruses that cause respiratory illness and is spread through the air via respiratory droplets from an infected person or by touching contaminated surfaces.

See more information specific to food facilities »

Frequently Asked Questions

Businesses should prepare for widespread transmission in our community. Planning should consider replacing in-person meetings with video or telephone conferences; an increased ability for teleworking options; and, modifying absenteeism policies and enhancing surface cleaning.​​​​​​

California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) may be able to help if you are experiencing a business slowdown or reducing work hours. Consider the Work Sharing Program as an alternative to layoffs. If you plan a closure or major layoffs, get help through the Rapid Response Program, Rapid Response Services for Businesses Fact Sheet (DE 87144RRB) (PDF), or contact your local America’s Job Center of California, the County of Sonoma’s Job Link program. You can read more at:

Yes, retrieving or securing business property to prevent a loss is allowed as part of minimum basic operations.

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