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Officials say Sonoma County won't meet the requirements, set by Bay Area Health officials earlier this month, to lift the indoor mask mandate until early next year. 

The reason it will take so long is because the process is complicated.

First, the county must get COVID transmission down from its current substantial to moderate spread.

Second, COVID hospitalizations must be deemed "low and stable" to lift the mask mandate. County epidemiologist Kate Peck says this is one of the more ambiguous requirements because of how unique hospital needs are in each county and the many factors at play.

"As hospital resources and capacity vary very greatly by county, this criteria is being defined locally and we are still in the process of discussing this criteria with local hospitals and other healthcare partners," Peck said.

For the last requirement there are two options: First the county could vaccinate another twelve percent of the population, or 58,000 more residents, to get the vaccination rate up to the required eighty percent.

Although younger kids between the ages of five and eleven will be eligible within the next month, Peck says this won't help the county reach the 80 percent requirement, more adults will need to get vaccinated.

"Even if 100 percent of this age group were fully vaccinated, we would still need about 20,000 more individuals from currently eligible age groups," Peck said.

If the county can't make the vaccination requirement, officials can lift the mandate if all the other criteria is met, eight weeks after young children become eligible for the vaccine, which would be late December.

Although the county has a long way to go to ditch indoor masks, county officials say its light at the end of the tunnel.

 

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