Proof of booster or twice weekly COVID tests for school employees and emergency workers

By Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, December 30, 2021

vaccination

Attendees at an event in Cloverdale on Dec. 19 had the optio of getting the COVID-19 vaccine (Photo Elsa Cavazos)

All schools in Sonoma County will soon be required to have school employees provide evidence, when eligible, that they have received a booster shot for COVID-19, or to test at least twice weekly. The announcement about the requirement came the same week that the county announced a similar requirement for emergency workers. Both are set to take effect on Feb. 1.

The county is calling for “all employers of fire, law enforcement, emergency medical service workers, pharmacies, dental offices and operators of temporary disaster shelters in Sonoma County to require personnel to get tested at least twice weekly for COVID-19 or produce satisfactory evidence that they have received a booster for COVID-19 (if eligible). At least twice weekly testing for personnel that are unvaccinated or have not received a booster (if eligible) is highly recommended to begin as soon as possible for any employee in these high-risk groups to mitigate the effects of a winter surge in COVID cases,” according to a county press release.

Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase issued the health orders on Dec. 23 amid a rise in COVID case rates and hospitalizations.

“With variants circulating locally and COVID-19 cases increasing, it is essential that our frontline workers have all the protection available to them,” Mase said. “Emergency personnel are in routine contact with the public, so getting them booster shots and requiring twice weekly testing if not boosted is the best way to protect them and the community.”

Booster shots offer increased protection against the new, highly-transmissible omicron variant by decreasing the chances of those who are infected to become severely ill.

“We are facing colder weather, holiday travel and gatherings, and a new highly transmissible variant,” Mase said in a statement. “This order is just one of the steps we are taking to protect our community from the most serious health outcomes associated with COVID-19.”

The county’s first identified case of omicron was announced on Dec. 16 and in other locations the variant has quickly become the dominant strain of COVID-19.

“This health order is vital in helping keep our schools open as we seek to minimize further disruptions to learning,” Dr. Steven Herrington, Sonoma County’s superintendent of schools, said in a statement. “The coronavirus pandemic forced our students to learn remotely for two-thirds of the 2020-21 school year, following three years of interruptions caused by wildfires and flooding. While vaccines have allowed a return to in-person classes, ensuring our school communities are as protected as they can be from omicron and future potential variants is essential for providing a safe environment conducive to education.”

According to the county press release, the Sonoma County Office of Education is working with the county’s vaccination team to host a booster clinic through MyTurn, with details to come.

For case rate, testing and vaccination information, visit https://socoemergency.org/.

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