Sonoma County was on the cusp of hitting the data requirements to move into a less restrictive tier when the rest of the state saw a surge in coronavirus cases leading the governor to call for a curfew that started on Saturday, Nov. 21.
The curfew, which started Saturday and is set to expire Dec. 21, is from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. It is unlikely to have a negative effect on most businesses in Sonoma Valley, said Mayor Logan Harvey.
“Most people are home by 10. People always joke that Sonoma shuts down by 8:30, 9,” Harvey said. “Other than a few bars, that’s always been true. I don’t see it having much affect.”
Harvey said he doesn’t know how the county plans to enforce the curfew, and said the City of Sonoma has no additional resources available to enforce it.
Sonoma County Sheriff spokesperson Juan Valencia said the department cannot walk onto private property to check on rules-breakers should a complaint be called into law enforcement.
Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s health officer, said Monday that the governor essentially put the “emergency brake” on any tier movement and the state has not given the county a health equity metric for a couple weeks. Sonoma County has been in the purple tier, the most restrictive of the four color-coded tiers defined by the state, and was making strides to move out of it when the surge took place.
The health equity metric is one of three factors in determining a county’s tier level under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The others are an adjusted case rate per 100,000 people over a seven-day average, and the positivity rate over a seven-day average.
Mase said the county was averaging 11 to 12 cases per 100,000, and that has gone up to 15 cases per 100,000, but the numbers for the week of Oct. 25 looked good and would have qualified for the red, or “substantial” tier, which allows some non-essential indoor business operations to open. But in order to move into a new tier the data must remain constant or improve for two weeks. The county’s numbers did not meet the requirement the following week.
The enhanced strategy the county put in place in October and the discovery of non-electronically counted tests is starting to give Mase hope though.
“Everybody can be assured that we can meet those metrics,” she said.
Sonoma Valley continues to have a higher case rate than other parts of the county, sitting in the top five of all the county’s ZIP codes for active case rates.
Sonoma County has administered more than 280,000 tests and has 11,486 (or 2.26 percent of the population) active cases. About half of those cases trace the source of transmission to close contact.
Small private gatherings and restaurants are among the sources for transmission, and Kathryn Pack, health program manager for the county’s epidemiology team, said there are some cases traced to Halloween activities, though data is still be processed.
It is a “bit difficult” to track cases among restaurant customers given that tracing asks people to account for their activity for 14 days, and some people don’t remember all the places they have been, she said.
Of the active cases, 71 percent are among the Hispanic/Latino community, which accounts for 27 percent of the county’s population.
There are 1,706 active cases, which is .34 percent of population, 155 deaths (1.3 percent of cases,) and 9,625 cases recovered (84 percent of cases) in the county. Sonoma Valley Hospital declined to provide a number for hospitalized patients.
Mase encouraged people to avoid gathering with people outside of their households.
“Really there is no safe way to gather indoors this year with people who are not in your household,” she said. “The safest way to celebrate the holidays is to gather only with those who are already in your household. If you want to celebrate with non-household members we ask that you keep it outdoors, keep it small, short and stable.”
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