Hello, Healdsburg! It’s been a long, cold, lonely pandemic winter, but spring is here and with it, lower COVID-19 case rates and more eligibility and access to the COVID-19 vaccines.

Jeff Kay

Jeff Kay

We have made a lot of progress against this deadly disease. As of this this writing, the county’s adjusted case rate of positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 is 3.6 and our overall testing positivity rate is 1.6%. That’s a far cry from the double digits we saw just two months ago. More good news: More than 25% of Sonoma County residents ages 16 and over has received at least one vaccine dose — that’s more than 300,000 doses countywide. (For updated numbers, go here.)

But we are still in the middle of the fight against COVID-19. Today, I’ll highlight several of our local health care organizations who have fought for us from the very start and continue to battle for the health of our community every day. 

One is Alliance Medical Center. This nonprofit federally qualified health center (FQHC) serves more than 13,000 Healdsburg and Windsor patients, most of whom are Spanish-speaking and employed as frontline workers in agriculture, hospitality and retail. Alliance stepped up — early and often — to provide COVID-19 testing and to vaccinate its patients and others in Healdsburg, Windsor and Geyserville who meet county eligibility requirements but who don’t have health insurance.

So far, Alliance has vaccinated 2,809 Healdsburg residents and thousands more in the surrounding area. The people who received the vaccines are both Latinx and non-Latinx and a sizeable contingent are 65 years of age and older.

This local nonprofit also continues to provide free COVID-19 testing to Healdsburg and other Sonoma County residents. Alliance’s pop-up testing site is held from 2-4 PM on Mondays in its parking lot at 1381 University Avenue. Learn more about Alliance here: https://alliancemed.org/

Another Healdsburg health care organization that deserves recognition is the Healthcare Foundation (HCF). Its mission: End health inequity in northern Sonoma County. Since the pandemic began in 2020, the foundation has appealed to its donors and distributed $245,000 in emergency healthcare funding to local organizations such as Alliance, Alexander Valley Healthcare, Corázon Healdsburg, Farm to Pantry and Reach for Home.

“We raise funds so nonprofits can focus on serving people in our community who are struggling and on the margins,” said HCF Executive Director Kim Bender in a press release. “Right now, that means reaching out and vaccinating eligible populations, growing and distributing nutritious food, and providing much-needed mental health services.”

Learn more about the Healthcare Foundation here: healthcarefoundation.net/

Yet another health care organization that should be recognized is Healdsburg Hospital. In addition to its patients 65 years and older, our local hospital has been vaccinating workers in the agriculture and viticulture industries. The hospital also continues to work with local community leaders and stakeholders to educate the public about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccines and COVID-19 testing. More info about Healdsburg Hospital can be found here: healdsburgdistricthospital.org/

The state of California opened vaccine eligibility to Californians 50 years and over on April 1, and that eligibility expands to all Californians 16 years and over on April 15. If you haven’t been able to get a vaccine appointment yet, you will soon: As the state sends more vaccine doses to Sonoma County in the coming weeks, more people will have the opportunity to get protected from the symptoms of this disease. For more information on vaccine distribution, go to: socoemergency.org/vaccine.

Jeff Kay is the Healdsburg City Manager. To submit ideas or questions for this column, email cityscape@ci.healdsburg.ca.us.

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