Once again, our county has been thrust into an emergency scenario. And while we have weathered fires, floods, and power outages together, this time is different. Instead of affecting only our area, now the whole world is facing the same crisis. I am talking, of course, about the Novel Coronavirus and the infection it causes, COVID-19.
As you may have seen, Sonoma County released preliminary modeling data on April 2. This modeling was done for our community specifically, and there will be more coming out soon. Our key findings include:
1) Shelter in Place is working. We are flattening the curve.
2) In Sonoma County, we currently expect to hit our peak for hospitalizations in the first or second week of June.
3) We expect to need about 1,500 total hospital beds for residents aged 18-64 to accommodate that peak in June.
4) For our seniors age 65+, and minors age 0-17, we do not currently anticipate a significant increase in the number of hospital beds required. While the virus impacts seniors at a higher percentage relative to other ages, the modeling indicates early sheltering recommendations have helped slow the spread within this age group.
Without local shelter in place orders, our healthcare system would have been overwhelmed. Now the anticipated surge is expected to be manageable, although still stressful. The modeling also tells us that when we do begin to lift our Shelter in Place order, we need to have strong mitigation measures in place.
I know this information can be scary and difficult to accept. Many have expressed concern that we may need to stay sheltered in place for two-plus months. This is what our modeling indicates for now, but models are fluid and will be updated over time with information about the number of COVID cases detected, the number of tests completed in the County, and the recovery rates experienced worldwide.
There are still many unanswered questions about this virus and its behavior. Answers to these questions will come with time, but we know how to make our community safer now: wash your hands, shelter in place, get in and get out at stores, stay home if you’re sick, wear a face covering when you need to go out (leave the medical masks for our healthcare providers).
This emergency is unprecedented in our lifetimes and brings new challenges. The County is working with homeless service providers to make sure our unsheltered community has the care they need. We are also reaching out to our Latinx community, many of whom lack internet access and may not be reached by standard means of communication. Although we have produced bilingual versions of news and county alerts, we know this is not enough. My office is working with Supervisor Gore, who is taking the lead on Latinx outreach on the Board, as well as community members in the Springs, to include our whole community in vital communications. Karina Garcia, Administration Assistant with our District 1 Team, is setting up a Facebook Page intended specifically for outreach to our Latinx community. Friend her!
I am so grateful to organizations like La Luz and Undocufund that are stepping up to help bridge this divide. La Luz has raised about $53,000 – just over a third of their $150,000 goal – for emergency relief including food, rent, and benefits registration assistance. Undocufund, which provided assistance to undocumented residents after the 2017 fires, has relaunched to help in the current crisis. We know this crisis hurts vulnerable residents the most. If you can donate financially to either one of these organizations, please consider it.
I acknowledge that many people are out of work and worried about how they will buy food or pay for housing. Family businesses are in jeopardy. Nonessential businesses have closed, and those that are essential, like many of our local restaurants, are facing devastating losses. The impacts of this virus on our local economy will ripple through this community for months, maybe longer.
Our children are home from school for at least this school year, and parents are having to juggle distance learning, work, and their own stress. Our workers who are most essential – nurses, doctors, other healthcare workers, police and fire, grocery store clerks, pharmacists, plumbers, electricians, and farmers – are working longer hours with more stress. Our nonprofits and agencies are stepping up to meet bigger needs, with fewer volunteers, due to physical distancing. To all of these workers and agencies who make sure we have the medical care we need, feed us, and allow us to shelter safely in our homes, the words “thank you” cannot begin to convey my gratitude.
Key C-19 contacts
The latest County information and resources in English and Spanish:
List of distribution sites for the Redwood Empire Food Bank:
City of Sonoma news and updates: