Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase

At a COVID-19 Town Hall meeting on Tuesday night, Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said retailers would have to wait to open until the county could gauge the effect of the recent loosening of restrictions on the county's COVID-19 caseload. 

Coming on the heels of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcements that some retail locations, places of worship, salons and barbershops in the state can reopen, Sonoma County’s health officer said that local businesses who meet those descriptions can expect to wait a bit longer for the green light to open their doors.

According to Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s current shelter-in-place order won’t be amended to allow for the reopening of in-store retail shopping, barber shops or salons until the county has been able to examine data from the most recent shelter order changes (namely, allowing for outside dining).

As of Tuesday evening, May 26, the county had a total of 515 cases — 289 of which are active, 222 are recovered and 5 deaths. In the past two weeks, the numbers have jumped significantly.

“We’re doing intensive contact investigation and we’ve added 203 cases in the last 14 days — that means we’ve added double the rate we were at two weeks ago,” Mase said in a coronavirus town hall hosted by Northern California Public Media. “Part of it is definitely (because) we’re doing a lot more intensive contact tracing in large groups.”

The majority of COVID-19 cases, 64%, have been transmitted via close contact, and while many of the close contact cases have occurred within families, Mase said that the county has seen an increase in cases transmitted in work settings.

“We’re also seeing more community transmission cases,” Mase said, noting that community transmission cases are more difficult to trace, since they depend on the person who tests positive to recall everywhere they’ve been in the recent past.

She said that some of the keys when it comes to managing spread is to continue tracing and to have people, once they test positive, agree to go to an alternate care site (ACS). If folks go to the county’s ACS, located at Sonoma State University, it can potentially limit the likelihood of intra-family spread.

When asked if the county has an anticipated date for when businesses like retail locations, barbershops and salons can reopen, Mase said that there isn’t one, since the county has yet to see the impact of the shelter-in-place order changes thus far.

“We’re closely looking at the data and given the recent increases we’ve seen in the last couple weeks and also because we’ve just opened outdoor seating with wineries … I don’t think we’ve seen the full impact of what we just altered with our recent shelter-in-place order. I think we’re going to wait to see where we’re going” with regard to community impact, she said.

While Newsom’s order allows counties within the state to reopen those specific types businesses, the guidelines are meant to capture counties of all sizes, and the decision to ultimately reopen parts of local economies are at the discretion of the county, Mase said.

When asked if she has messages for businesses who may have been looking forward to reopening following the governor’s message earlier today, Mase reiterated that the county is “closely monitoring the data on a daily basis, looking at the number of cases we’re adding and where they’re happening.”

She added that the county is looking at the data pertaining to how COVID-19 is being transmitted, as well as PPE availability, hospital bed availability and demographic data of those testing positive as indicators of allowing businesses to open further.

(1) comment

Massraff2

Dr. Mase is not an elected official, her response is not proportional to the reality. Shelter in place was implemented to flatten the curve and protect the hospitals. Now that the curve has been flattened it’s time we get on to living our lives. Every citizen of Sonoma county knows the risk and what it takes to protect ourselves. If you want to stay home, stay home, but the rest of us need to get on with our lives!

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