State public health officials have extended a Stay-Home Order for the 11-county Bay Area region, including Sonoma County, due to rising cases of COVID-19, increasing hospitalizations and, specifically, low ICU capacity rates for the larger Bay Area region. The restrictions will remain in place until the state’s four-week projections of the Bay Area’s total available ICU bed capacity is greater than or equal to 15 percent.
In early December, Sonoma County proactively adopted the Stay-Home Order, which took effect Dec. 12, ahead of the region moving under the order on Dec. 17. The state Stay Home order takes effect once the ICU capacity for a region falls below 15 percent and can only be lifted once a region’s projected ICU capacity is greater than 15 percent. The Bay Area ICU capacity on Friday was 3 percent. Four of the five regions throughout the state remain under the Stay-Home Order.
“Sonoma County residents and businesses have endured so much over the past year, and I know that everyone is anxiously awaiting the time when we can finally return to a sense of normalcy and safely reopen our economy,” said Lynda Hopkins, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “While we are hopeful that the vaccine will soon provide the means to end this pandemic, the virus is still raging through our community. We are asking everyone for a little more patience while we slow the spread and work through our vaccine distribution plan.”
Under the extended order, residents are directed to stay at home except for work, shopping or other essential activities, such as medical appointments. All sectors other than retail and essential operations must be closed. Outdoor recreation is allowed.
Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s Public Health Officer, noted that Sonoma County’s ICU capacity remains above the regional level at 27.6 percent, which is not yet at surge capacity. However, the county is now averaging 42 cases per day per 100,000 residents, which is nearly double the rate when the Stay-Home Order was first enacted. Nearly 40 percent of all ICU patients in Sonoma County are COVID-positive.
“Our case rate and numbers are at an all-time high and some of our hospitals are already being pushed to extremes,” Dr. Mase said. “The fact that regional Stay-Home Order for the Bay Area has been extended is further evidence of how quickly the virus is spreading in our region and throughout the state.”
Under the order, retail operations are allowed to continue at 20 percent capacity, or 35 percent capacity for stand-alone grocery stores, schools that have received waivers are allowed to continue operation, places of worship are permitted to hold outdoor services, and restaurants are able to offer take-out, pick up, or delivery. Hotels, vacation rentals and other lodging are only allowed to offer accommodations for those coming to the area for essential work or for COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures. The following operations are required to remain closed:
- Hair salons and barbershops
- Personal care services
- Movie theaters (except for drive-in theaters)
- Wineries, bars, breweries and distilleries (except for operations related to production, manufacturing, distribution and retail sales for off-site consumption)
- Family entertainment centers
- Museums, zoos, and aquariums
- Live audience sports
- Amusement parks
Outdoor activities are allowed but only for the purpose of facilitating physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise. Outdoor gym operations are allowed, but no indoor activities are permitted. Additionally, overnight stays at campgrounds are not permitted. Playgrounds may remain open to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise.
The state health order is available on the Sonoma County website at https://socoemergency.org/order-of-the-health-officer-c19-17-implementing-the-terms-of-the-regional-stay-at-home-order/. Residents can learn more about what activities are restricted by visiting https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/.