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January 10, 2022 4:58 PM

Order of the Health Officer of the County Of Sonoma C19-35

This Sonoma County Health Order is no longer in effect. This content is provided for historical reference only.

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DATE OF ORDER: January 10, 2022

Please read this Order carefully. Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a crime punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both. (Health and Safety Code §120295, et seq.)

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. To slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”), this Order prohibits large gatherings, as defined, as well as gatherings of 12 or more individuals of any age who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, for the duration of this Order.
  2. Effective Date and Time/Duration. This Order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on January 12, 2022, and will remain in effect until February 11, 2022, unless it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Health Officer or State Public Health Officer.
  3. Basis for Order. Sonoma County is experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases.  The introduction of the Omicron variant has resulted in an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases in Sonoma County due to increased transmissibility and the ability of the variant to evade immunity conferred by past infection or vaccination (i.e., immune evasion).  Over the course of 14 days, Sonoma County’s case rate increased by 398% from 24.4 to 121.4 new cases per 100,000 per day and is predicted to continue to rise in January 2022.  Test positivity is higher than at any point during the pandemic (16.5% as compared to a prior peak of 9.7%).  Fifty percent (50%) of cases in the last two weeks with known source of infection have been due to gatherings, with the majority being large gatherings (involving more than 12 individuals).  Antigen and PCR testing availability to detect the virus and reduce spread is limited due to exceptionally high demand.  COVID-19 hospitalizations increased from 28 hospitalized on January 03, 2022 to 76 hospitalized on January 09, 2022.  In the winter surge of January 2021, COVID-19 hospitalizations reached 104.  Without mitigation efforts, State modeling projections show the current surge has the potential to lead to more than three times that number of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 which would overwhelm local hospital bed and staffing capacity.

    From an equity lens, the current surge will likely disproportionately impact low-income, communities of color due to risk factors including over-representation in the essential workforce, lack of sick leave/job protections, poverty-induced household density or shared living situations, and use of shared transportation placing these residents at higher risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.  Test positivity among Latinx residents in the past two weeks was 27% as compared to 18% in the community overall.  Latinx residents have accounted for over half (53%) of all COVID-19 cases in the county despite representing just 27.3% of the population and have also been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.  In 2020, life expectancy decreased by 2.1 years (compared to 2017-2019 average) for Latinx residents but only 0.7 years for White, non-Hispanic residents.

    Additional public health measures are necessary at this time to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the likelihood of large outbreaks, disproportionate impacts on low-income communities of color, and severe outcomes (hospitalization and/or death).  Gatherings now account for 50% of cases where the source of transmission is known.  Reducing the transmission of the Omicron variant is necessary to maintain adequate staffing levels within our healthcare delivery system and to maintain sufficient hospital beds for persons not only sick with COVID-19 but for those in need of hospitalization for other reasons.  Given the current hospital census, even a moderate surge in cases and hospitalizations could materially impact the health care delivery system in Sonoma County.  This Order will reduce the likelihood that many individuals will be exposed to COVID-19 at a single event, and will thereby slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.  By reducing the spread of COVID-19, this Order will help preserve critical and limited healthcare capacity in Sonoma County.

  4. Prohibition on Large Gatherings. I hereby order that during the duration of this Order:
    1. Large gatherings, as defined below, are prohibited.  To the extent a large gathering has been planned to occur during the period of this Order, it shall be postponed or canceled.
    2. Gatherings of individuals of any age that includes person(s) who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 shall be limited to no more than 12 people, except for family gatherings.
  5. Definitions.
    1. A “gathering” for purposes of this Order is any public or private event or convening that brings people together in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, gymnasium, stadium, arena, large conference room, wedding venue, meeting hall, or any other indoor or outdoor space. These gatherings may have either assigned or unassigned seating, and may be either general admission or gated, ticketed, and permitted events.
    2. Except as stated in paragraph (c), below, for the purposes of this Order, a “large gathering” is a gathering of:
      • More than 50 persons present indoors; or,
      • More than 100 persons present outdoors where social distancing of at least six (6) feet per person is not feasible.
    3. For the purposes of this Order, a “large gathering” does not include attendance at work, courthouses, places of worship, cafeterias, or any venue that is open to public circulation as part of its regular operations such as shopping malls, stores, restaurants/food facilities, and museums.  This Order does not apply to regular school instructional events such as daily classes or outdoor recess.
    4. For the purpose of this Order, “individuals of any age higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19” means Persons with Certain Medical Conditions as defined by the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html.
  6. Due to the current surge in cases, smaller gatherings should be, but are not required to be, postponed, canceled, or conducted virtually.
  7. Pursuant to Government Code sections 26602 and 41601 and Health and Safety Code section 101029, the Health Officer requests that the Sheriff and all chiefs of police in the County ensure compliance with and enforce this Order.
  8. To the extent the Sheriff or any chief of police has any questions regarding the definitions under this Order, the Health Officer hereby delegates authority to the County Counsel to answer such questions in writing.
  9. Copies of this Order 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 (3) provided to any member of the public requesting a copy of this Order.

IT IS SO ORDERED:

Dr. Sundari R. Mase, MD MPH
Health Officer of the County of Sonoma

Frequently Asked Questions

Indoor athletic competitions, music and other fine arts performances should be limited to 50 people or fewer. Assigned seating should adhere to social distancing protocols, even at athletic events. For outdoor events where social distancing is not feasible, the limit is 100 people or fewer, including all participants and spectators. Schools should avoid holding dances or in-person assemblies for the duration of the health order.

Special events of more than 50 people indoors, or more than 100 outdoors where social distancing is not feasible, at restaurants and other food facilities are NOT allowed. However, the order does not apply to regular operations.

As of Jan. 10 2022, Sonoma County has experienced an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases, due to the transmissibility and immunity evasion of the omicron variant, resulting in the following outcomes:  

  • Over the last 14 days, Sonoma County’s case rate increased by 398 percent, from 24.4 to 121.4 daily new cases per 100,000. . 
  • Test positivity is higher than at any point during the pandemic, 16.5 percent compared to the prior peak of 9.7 percent.  
  • Gatherings of 12 or more people have been the known source of 50 percent of the new infections over the last two weeks. 
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations increased from 28 on Jan. 3 to 76 on  Jan. 9. 
  • Antigen and PCR testing availability to detect the virus and reduce spread is limited due to exceptionally high demand.
  • This Order will also reduce the likelihood that many individuals will be exposed to COVID-19 at a single event, and will thereby slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.  By reducing the spread of COVID-19, this Order will help preserve critical and limited healthcare capacity in Sonoma County.

Smaller gatherings should be, but are not required to be, postponed, canceled, or conducted virtually.

The order does not apply to attendance at work, courthouses, places of worship, cafeterias, or any venue that is open to public circulation as part of its regular operations such as shopping malls, stores, restaurants/food facilities, and museums.  The order also does not apply to regular school instructional events such as daily classes or outdoor recess.

Gatherings of individuals of any age that include people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 shall be limited to no more than 12 people, except for family gatherings. “Individuals of any age higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19” means Persons with Certain Medical Conditions as defined by the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html.

A gathering of more than 50 spectators indoors, or more than 100 persons present outdoors where social distancing of at least six (6) feet per person is not feasible.

Yes, the order restricts indoor gatherings to 50 people.  The 50 person restriction applies to spectators.  This restriction does not apply to staff directly involved with the event, media, players, or performers.

Public health requires compliance with indoor face covering order and strongly recommends other public health mitigation measures.

Outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people are only allowed when social distancing between cohorts, or persons, can be accommodated.

A gathering is any public or private event or convening that brings people together in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, gymnasium, stadium, arena, large conference room, wedding venue, meeting hall, or any other indoor or outdoor space.  These gatherings may have either assigned or unassigned seating, and may be either general admission or gated, ticketed, and permitted events.

This order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 12, and will remain in effect until February 11, unless the health officer extends, rescinds, supersedes or amends it.