The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Thursday discussed the county’s plan for tackling its increase in COVID-19 cases as well as addressing the disproportionate impact of the virus on the Latinx community.
Presenting COVID-19 updates to the board was Barbie Robinson, director of the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, and Dr. Sundari Mase, the Sonoma County health officer.
The county had less than 10 cases reported on many days in early June, but a month later was reporting 40 to 50 new cases per day.
If Sonoma County remains out of compliance on state metrics for COVID-19 spread for three or more consecutive days, it will join 23 other counties on the California Department of Public Health watchlist.
If added to the watchlist, indoor businesses such as indoor dine-in restaurants, wineries, zoos, movie theaters, and breweries, pubs and more must close for a minimum of three weeks. Outdoor dining for restaurants would still remain open.
State public health officials use a variety of measurements to determine if a county should be placed on the watchlist. Sonoma County is in the red zone for some of these measurements, but has met the standard for the percent of positive testing out of all tests made, at 3.3 percent when the state threshold is 8 percent, according to Mase.
Numbers of cases are rising due to less mask wearing and more mass gatherings, according to Mase.
The county reminded residents to always wear masks and refrain from mass gatherings in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
According to Mase, a disproportionate number of cases are occurring in the Latinx community. Currently, according to the county’s case data, 71 percent of positive cases are from the Latinx community, who make up 27.2 percent of the population. Many Latinx residents of Sonoma County have been working essential jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Mase.
Robinson presented a new Latinx health workgroup developed to address the disproportionate impacts on the county’s Latinx community.
Zeke Guzman from the workgroup stressed the need to coordinate and communicate with Latinx farm workers who are being disproportionately affected.
Guzman talked about the fear amongst farmworkers of speaking up about their positive test results because of the potential of losing their jobs that support their families.
Additionally, 86 percent of the cases in Sonoma County are residents under 50, and they are more often due to close contact transmission, according to Mase.