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COVID: Will more Bay Area counties ban gatherings like Sonoma?

in People

Invoking the kind of restrictions on activities that marked the early months of the pandemic, Sonoma County starting Wednesday will prohibit large gatherings — indoors and out — in an effort to tamp down the alarming spread of COVID-19 from the super-contagious omicron variant.

For now, health officials in other Bay Area counties say they have no plans to follow suit, even though their virus transmission rates are in many cases worse than Sonoma County’s. But more restrictions elsewhere aren’t completely off the table.

“There’s so much rapid change. Numbers are going up rapidly,” Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if something came up in the next week or so.”


SonomaCounty’s order begins at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and will remain in effect until Feb. 11. It prohibits gatherings of 50 or more people indoors and 100 or more outdoors, as well as gatherings of 12 or more people considered high risk for severe COVID-19 illness.

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Sonoma County officials make urgent plea to avoid Christmas, New Year’s gatherings

in People
Sutter emergency Department doctor Craig Cohen receives the COVID-19 vaccine from RN Karen Cauthen at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2020

Just days before Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays, Sonoma County public health officials on Tuesday released evidence showing Thanksgiving gatherings were a strong driver of the alarming spike in new coronavirus cases countywide the past month.

Hoping to avoid an even greater surge of infections in January that could overwhelm county and state hospitals, local public health officials and executives at California’s largest hospital systems made an urgent plea for residents to avoid gathering outside their homes for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

“This is not the time to take the risk of gathering and increasing our case numbers and rates. This is not the time to have even more widespread transmission,” county Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said. “This is a time to limit transmission, so our vaccine efforts can be even more successful.“

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