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Sonoma County Is Next to Impose Strict State Rules

Sonoma County announced Thursday afternoon that it will preemptively adhere to the state’s strict stay-at-home order, joining five other Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley.

The order will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 12, and remain in place until Jan. 9.

The restrictions, which are by now becoming familiar to Bay Area residents, include:

Residents must stay at home except for work, shopping or other essential activities like medical appointments Retail operations limited to 20% capacity, or 35% at stand-alone grocery stores Restaurants must close to dining but can offer take-out, pick up and delivery. Hotels, vacation rentals and other lodging can only accommodate essential workers

The following must shut down altogether:

Hair salons and barbershops Personal care services Movie theaters (except for drive-in theaters) Wineries, bars, breweries and distilleries Family entertainment centers Museums, zoos and aquariums Live audience sports Amusement parks Indoor gyms

Outside exercise is allowed provided residents stay physically distant, and outdoor gyms can offer outdoor operations. Overnight stays at campgrounds are out, but playgrounds can stay open after the state reversed its policy on them this week.

Technically, the county is not obligated to place itself under the state’s latest order, because the state-designated Bay Area region, which also includes Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, as a whole has 17.8% of beds available in intensive care units, and the threshold for coming under the directive is 15%. But San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara, Marin and Contra Costa counties implemented strict stay-at-home orders ahead of hitting that 15% capacity threshold.

“Although Sonoma County has fared better until now than other parts of the state in terms of demand on our hospitals, we have been seeing an alarming increase in cases and hospitalizations in recent days, and this is putting increased strain on our medical resources,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s health officer, in a statement. “Given that, we feel we have no choice but to join the other Bay Area counties in preemptively adopting the governor’s Stay-Home order, which is already in effect for most of the state. We have to take action now.”

From the county press release:

Dr. Mase noted that Sonoma County cases have doubled in recent days and are now averaging nearly 25 cases per 100,000 with a 14-day average of 343 cases per 100,000 This is higher than at any point since the pandemic began. In addition, the county’s positivity rate is now up to 6.6 percent, and hospitalizations are now close to being the highest that they have ever been, said Mase. “We also are seeing a wider geographic spread of infection,” Mase said. Much of these increases are due to the surge in cases that is spreading across the nation as well as large gatherings that have occurred locally including over Halloween and Thanksgiving, she said.

—Jon Brooks (jbrooksfoy)

Copyright 2020 KQED