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Just after 5 pm Monday, Sonoma County's public health officials sent out an urgent appeal for residents to voluntarily stay home, and they banned any large gatherings until mid-February.

The appeal is for all Sonoma County residents to stay home as much as possible for the next 30 days. While the new notice is not a stay-at-home order like in the early days of the pandemic, health officials are recommending that people limit travel outside the home to just going to work or to school and making only necessary trips such as going to the grocery store or the doctor.

The county said due to the rapid rise of COVID cases surging through the community, Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase Monday issued a health order canceling large gatherings to limit the further spread of the novel coronavirus in the county. From Wednesday until February 11, large gatherings of more than 50 people indoors, or more than 100 people outdoors ….where social distancing is not feasible....are banned for the duration of the order.

 "We believe these steps are necessary to reduce the likelihood that many individuals will be exposed to COVID 19 at a single event," Mase said in a recorded announcement Monday evening. "And we'll thereby slow spread of the Omicron variant in our community. One look at our case rate will show you why limiting travel and gatherings is so critical at this juncture: over the course of the past two weeks, Sonoma County's case rate has grown from 24 per hundred thousand residents to more than 120 new cases per hundred thousand, per day."

Mase said although evidence shows that a lower percentage of those who test positive for the omicron variant require hospitalization compared with previous forms of the virus, local hospitals could still be overwhelmed during this surge due to the sheer volume of cases that are anticipated. 

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