California Tops 100 Thousand Cases, No Further Opening for Now in Sonoma County

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With California on Wednesday passing a grim milestone of 100 thousand coronavirus cases, Sonoma County’s public health officer is pledging to move slowly on further reopening as cases locally are also on the rise.

County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase says despite new relaxed guidelines from California Governor Gavin Newsom that would allow barbershops, salons and indoor malls to reopen in counties that have received variances, Sonoma County has no immediate plans to further open businesses until the impact of actions already taken is known.

Mase pointed to a recent uptick in cases across Sonoma County as a cause for concern, and said the reopening of salons, in person church services and shopping malls would have to wait.

This graphic shows a definite increase in active cases in Sonoma County in recent weeks (in red).  Of course, some of this is due to increased testing and contact tracing detecting new cases.  But county officials are concerned reopening may also be triggering new cases.

Out of a total of 524 coronavirus cases in the county, more than 200 have been detected in the past two weeks alone.  This, along with a rise in the rate of hospitalization, has convinced county officials to move slowly while trying to gauge how measures already undertaken to relax restrictions may be contributing to the increase in cases.

Certainly one factor is ramped up testing, with two state funded sites now testing more than 500 people a day, and a county run site testing more than 200 on many days.  As of Wednesday the number of tests conducted in Sonoma County was more than 23,300, with 1443 tests added in the past 24 hours.

Across California, new cases are also on the rise.  As in Sonoma County, much of this may be due to increased testing and contact tracing.  But state and county officials are concerned a part may be due to increased person to person contact due to business reopening.

So far 47 out of California’s 58 counties including many in the North Bay have received “regional variances” to reopen businesses on a more rapid timeline than the rest of the state.  However, Governor Newsom has said that each county, through its health officer, will have the ultimate say over how quickly, or slowly, changes to the state’s stay-at-home orders will be implemented locally.

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