During one month, the Board of Supervisors made three different declarations of emergency – Napa earthquake, 2018 floods, and drought – all at the same time. At this point, I’m yearning for the simplicity of that time.
Since then, we experienced two massive fires and record flooding along the Russian River, each with a declaration of emergency and major activation of our Emergency Operations Center with 24/7 staffing. Recovery is happening; 75% of our housing lost in the fires is in the process of rebuilding or has been completed. But the recovery efforts taxed our community, cities, and county, and it has been financially straining and resource intensive as staff efforts continue to be diverted to recovery and it has been emotionally exhausting for all. And we have yet to fully recover from the fires, flood, infrastructure damage, staff diversion and business/job loss.
Upon my election as the Chair of the Board of Supervisors in January, I hopefully declared that 2020 would be “disaster-free.” This is now early March, how is it going so far? In December the Board declared a Homeless Emergency so we could marshal the resources necessary to coordinate and collaborate on solutions to our growing encampments, stand up an emergency shelter, identify sites for indoor-outdoor shelters, invest in permanent supportive housing, and develop transitional housing integrated in the community.
And now, the Novel Coronavirus. The board declared another emergency, to focus all of our efforts on communication with our cities, schools, special districts, and community, while proceeding with emergency preparations with our healthcare partners on testing and containment of COVID-19.
Sonoma County Public Health received the test kit containing 220 tests, and 900 additional COVID-19 tests are on order. Our Sonoma County public lab is verifying the kit performance and electronic reporting to CalREDIE via our laboratory information system, and testing will begin Monday. Rapid availability of test results at our local lab increases the efficiency of the public health response to COVID-19; test results could be available the next day.
Sonoma County currently has three confirmed Coronavirus cases. No new cases have been reported since March 5, 2020.
Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency on March 3 to help the state prepare for broader spread of the Coronavirus. This proclamation includes increased protections against price gouging, offers more assistance to local governments, and allows health care workers to come from out of state.
Check in with your neighbors, especially those who should avoid crowds. Offer to shop for groceries and necessities. Practice “random acts of kindness.” And Sonoma County will help you prepare and be ready to move through this period of flu and Coronavirus. Be Sonoma Strong!
The official County website for centralized information about the current coronavirus emergency is SoCoEmergency.org.