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December 10, 2020 3:59 PM

Order of the Health Officer of the County of Sonoma C19-17

This Sonoma County Health Order is no longer in effect. This content is provided for historical reference only.

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DATE OF AMENDMENT: December 10, 2020

Please read this Order carefully. Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both. (California Health and Safety Code § 120275, et seq.)


  1. Summary.  To slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”), this Order of the Sonoma County Health Officer implements the restrictions on businesses and activities set forth in the December 3, 2020, Regional Stay at Home Order and the December 6, 2020 Supplement to Regional Stay at Home Order issued by the California Department of Public Health.
  2. Effective Date and Time.  This order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, December 12, 2020, and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, January 9, 2021, unless it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Health Officer or State Public Health Officer.
  3. Basis for Order.  Sonoma County is in the midst of a local, regional and statewide surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that began in the middle of October 2020.  On October 1, 2020, the seven-day average COVID-19 adjusted daily case rate was 13.3 cases per 100,000 people in the County.  According to the most recently reported data, by December 9, 2020, the adjusted rate had nearly doubled, to 25.8 cases per 100,000 persons in the County.  Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients have also increased, from a seven-day average of 17.8 patients in County hospitals as of October 1, 2020, to a seven-day average of 49.1 patients in County hospitals as of December 9, 2020.Data reported by the State of California indicates that 10 percent to 30 percent of COVID-19 patients will require intensive care.  Of 65 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the County on December 9, 2020, 11 were in intensive care units (ICUs), and only 10 staffed ICU beds were available in the County for all patients, leaving the County with 18.2% percent available ICU capacity.  Available ICU capacity in hospitals in the Bay Area region was 17.8 percent on December 9, 2020, and is projected to fall to 15 percent by December 14, 2020.  If the current trends continue, according to State projections, Bay Area hospitals collectively may be operating at 91 percent of their full capacity by December 24, 2020, and by January 1, 2021, the demand for ICU beds may exceed the current supply. Surge plans are in place to convert non-ICU hospital beds to ICU beds if necessary, and move non-COVID-19 patients to temporary hospital facilities.  However, due to limitations in the availability of qualified and trained medical personnel, expanding ICU capacity in this manner is not ideal from the standpoint of patient care.  For this reason, the objective now is to manage existing ICU capacity so that all patients who need intensive care have access to an ICU bed.  Reducing the number of transmissions of the COVID-19 virus is critical to meeting this objective. Gatherings of people – social or otherwise – pose risks of virus transmission, even with social distancing and the use face coverings, as neither is 100 percent effective in preventing transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.  The transmission risk is higher indoors than outdoors, but even outdoor gatherings can result in viral transmissions, particularly in locations where people remove their face coverings to eat or drink.  Large gatherings are more risky than small gatherings, and prolonged interactions – i.e., longer than 15 minutes – are more risky than brief interactions. Reducing the maximum occupancy of businesses has been shown to reduce the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus.  Based on models of the effect of occupancy limitations, researchers found that a substantial reduction in the maximum occupancy of a business substantially reduces virus spread but does not as sharply reduce the number of visits to the business.  In the Chicago metropolitan area, for example, a cap on occupancy of businesses at 20 percent of the maximum was found to reduce the predicted number of new infections by more than 80 percent but there was a loss of only 42 percent of overall visits.  Because of the current case and hospitalization rates, it is necessary to impose additional restrictions on businesses and personal activities. The California Department of Public Health issued a Regional Stay at Home Order on December 3, 2020, and a Supplement to Regional Stay at Home Order on December 6, 2020, which impose new restrictions on gatherings, travel, and business activities, effective regionally based when available ICU capacity drops below 15 percent.  To protect the health and safety of County residents, it is necessary to implement the State Order restrictions before the State Order becomes effective regionally.
  4. Implementation of State Order.  The restrictions set forth in the State’s Regional Stay at Home Order, issued on December 3, 2020, the December 6, 2020 Supplement, and any further amendments, supplements, or guidance issued by the State will apply throughout the County. The Regional Stay at Home Order can be located here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Guidance.aspx https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/
  5. Other Orders.  To the extent that this Order conflicts with the Health Officer’s June 18, 2020, Order (C19-15), as amended, which authorizes businesses to operate in the County in accordance with State guidelines and restrictions applicable to the tier of the State Blueprint that the County is in, or any other Order issued by the Health Officer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this Order will control.
  6. Enforcement.  Pursuant to Government Code sections 26602 and 41601 and Health and Safety Code section 101029, the Health Officer requests that the Sheriff and all chiefs of police in the County ensure compliance with and enforce this Order.  The Sheriff, chiefs of police, County Counsel, District Attorney, and city attorneys are empowered to ensure compliance with and enforce this Order within their jurisdictions. The violation of any provision of this Order constitutes an imminent threat and menace to public health, constitutes a public nuisance, and is punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
  7. Justification.  The Health Officer has determined that this Order, and its Prior Shelter Orders, were and are necessary because cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed throughout the County.  COVID-19 is highly contagious and has a propensity to spread in various ways including, but not limited to, by attaching to surfaces or remaining in the air, resulting in physical damage and/or physical loss.
  8. Public Distribution.  Copies of this Order shall promptly be: (1) made available at the County Administration Center at 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa CA 95403; (2) posted on the County Public Health Department website (https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Public-Health/) and (http://socotestpsa.org/); and (3) provided to any member of the public requesting a copy of this Order.
  9. Severability.  If any provision of this Order to the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held to be invalid, the reminder of the Order, including the application of such part or provision to other persons or circumstances, shall not be affected and shall continue in full force and effect.  To this end, the provisions of this Order are severable.


Dr. Sundari R. Mase, MD MPH
Health Officer of the County of Sonoma