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With cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 increasing exponentially across Sonoma County and the Bay Area, Sonoma County’s Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase moved Monday January 10th to impose new, tighter restrictions on gatherings across the region. (The full video explaining the new orders appears below.)
The order encourages residents to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary trips and gatherings over the next month to help reduce the spread of the virus in the community. The order reduces the size of allowed indoor gatherings to 50, and outdoor gatherings to 100. It is expected to impact school sports activities and other similar gatherings. The new restrictions go into effect at 12:01AM Wednesday January 12th and last through February 11th.
The orders were prompted by a steep rise in case rates locally, mirroring what is being seen elsewhere in the U.S. This includes county case rates that have gone from 24 per 100 thousand per day to 154 per 100 thousand per day (January 4th) over the past two weeks. Since the case numbers are reported with a 7 day lag, the real time numbers are very likely to be much higher. Still, even with the 7 day lag, Sonoma County cases have risen by 638 percent in just the past two weeks.
In addition, Mase says the county’s testing positivity rate is also setting records. Currently 17.7 percent of all tests are coming back positive (January 4th), while during the height of last winter’s COVID-19 surge that number topped out at 9.7 percent. Again, the positivity rate is calculated on a 7 day average with a 7 day lag. The real time numbers are likely even higher.
Although studies have shown the Omicron variant to be generally less dangerous to most people than previous widely circulating COVID variants, one of the big worries of health officials is that the huge surge of Omicron cases will still overwhelm local hospitals, many of which are struggling with staffing issues.
During the height of last winter’s surge, Mase says the number of daily hospitalizations of COVID patients topped out at approximately 104 per day in Sonoma County. Now, Mase says, state modeling projects that almost 400 COVID patients per day may eventually stretch local hospitals to the breaking point.
In addition to avoiding gatherings and unnecessary travel, Mase called on all residents to upgrade their masks to N95 or medical grade versions and discontinue the use of cloth masks. She says with the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, cloth masks are no longer effective.
Here are the current daily case rates for other Bay Area counties and nearby counties, and the two week increase. (7 day lag)
San Francisco 193 per 100K, up 323%
Santa Clara 216 per 100K, up 828%
Alameda 182 per 100K, up 686%
Contra Costa 164 per 100K, up 691%
San Mateo 263 per 100K, up 948%
Napa 162 per 100K, up 564%
Mendocino 85 per 100K, up 415%
Solano 141 per 100K, up 768%

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