New Health Order Banning Large Gatherings Takes Effect in Sonoma County

No more than 50 people for indoor gatherings, no more than 100 outdoors through Feb. 11

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Sonoma County leaders announced Monday they are issuing a new health order banning large gatherings, and those rules took effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

The new order bans indoor gatherings with more than 50 people and outdoor events with more than 100 people, if the group is unable to socially distance. 

The order remains in effect until Feb. 11.

A Bay Area county will re-impose COVID restrictions not seen in months, while some schools are closing their doors and going virtual. But a leading local COVID expert said they’ve got it all wrong. Terry McSweeney reports.

Sonoma County’s health officer, Dr. Sundari Mase, is also asking people to stay home as much as possible for the next 30 days and limit interactions with people outside of their immediate household.

In Sonoma County, COVID hospitalizations increased from 28 on Jan. 3 to 76 on Jan. 9.  Also, the county’s positivity rate reached an all-time high of 16.5% this week

"While we may be done with COVID, COVID not done with us,” said Mase. “Cases rates, hospitalizations, worse in the coming weeks.”

Sonoma County announced Monday that they are issuing a new health order forbidding large gatherings for a month.

The county Office of Education says when it comes to schools, the new health order does not apply to normal classroom or recess activities. But Dr. Jeanne Noble, UCSF emergency medicine physician and director of COVID response, said forget about rising case numbers and focus on hospitalizations.

"The majority of people who come in with COVID, I discharge them home really quickly," she said.

Noble added that two-thirds of the reported COVID cases in the Bay Area are people being admitted for something else, and it’s the same percentage in Los Angeles.

As for the schools responding to omicron by going virtual, Noble took them to task on Twitter.

“Another Bay Area school district opting for distance learning, despite high vax rates which = exceedingly low risk of illness. All lessons from 2020 appear to have been forgotten. What is the end game?" she wrote.

In Sonoma on Tuesday, there was mixed reaction to the tighter restrictions.

"It’s been two years now. Supposedly this newest one only gives you like a cold-like thing. Why are they panicking?" said resident Drew Clyde.

Meanwhile, Renee Cable said, "This COVID this is scary. So I don't think this is overreaction. I don't know."

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