1193px 2019 nCoV CDC 23312 without backgroundThe advisory, issued by the Sonoma County Health Officer, recommends canceling or postponing non-essential indoor gatherings of 50 people or more for older adults over the age of 60, and those with chronic medical conditions.

People in these specific groups are at higher risk for severe illness than the general public.

The recommendation begins Wednesday, March 11 and will last two weeks, after which time the recommendation may be re-evaluated, based on the ongoing need for public safety.

“During a public health emergency, our number one priority is to keep the public safe,” says Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chair Susan Gorin. “Since attendees at large indoor events are often in close proximity to others, they are at a higher risk of getting ill. We can’t risk the spread of the coronavirus in our community, so we are asking event organizers to cancel or postpone their indoor events until a later date.” 

The risk of contracting the virus at outdoor events is low, but it would be wise to keep six feet or more away from others. If event organizers chose to continue, the recommendation is to follow the California Department of Public Health guidelines for mass gatherings that was issued on March 7.

For indoor events that are not canceled, organizers should consider:

  • Promotion of preventive health practices, such as hand-washing, to attendees and staff.
  • Recommend minimizing close contact and touching, such as no handshaking or hugging.
  • In event invitations or marketing, discourage people who are sick from attending.

Currently, there are three Sonoma County patients with coronavirus in isolation at local hospitals. These cases have been traced to exposure to coronavirus from international travel on cruise ships.

“The Department of Health Services is working closely with our partners at the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to ensure we are providing the most up-to-date information and advice,” said Sonoma County Interim Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase. “County staff are also working with cities, schools and other organizations to educate residents in the simple, effective actions they can keep them healthy and prevent the spread of the virus.”

The County continues to encourage preventative measures whenever possible, including:

  • Wash your hands frequently or use anti-viral sanitizer.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands. 
  • Wash your hands every time you use a tissue for your nose.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands.
  • Clean any surface that is touched often, such as countertops or door handles.
  • Limit close contact with those who are sick.
  • If you are sick, quickly report your symptoms to your medical provider and stay away from others. You may need to stay home from work or school.
  • Your medical provider may recommend using a face mask when you are near other people. However, face masks are not recommended for the public, as they do not provide protection from coronavirus.

For the latest information about the coronavirus in Sonoma County and advice from health experts on prevention and care, call 2-1-1, text your zip code to 898-211 or visit www.socoemergency.org. Updates and videos are also on the County of Sonoma Facebook page and twitter feed @countyofsonoma.

(Photo: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM / Public domain)

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