Our community, along with many others across the nation and world, faces new and uncertain times. The City of Sonoma has been busy working to prepare and respond to the evolving public health and economic effects of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
City staff has been in daily communication with Sonoma County Public Health and Sonoma County Emergency Management. We are fortunate to have talented and committed experts including the Sonoma County Public Health Officer Sundari R. Mase, MD, MPH and Sonoma County Emergency Management Director Christopher Godley. Our local health care agencies and professionals are our leaders in this public health emergency.
City staff have been working extremely closely with the Sonoma Valley Hospital, Sonoma Valley Community Health Clinic, Sonoma Valley Unified School District to monitor and respond to COVID-19. As a city, county and community, we have had too much practice in the past few years responding to emergencies — yet this has built strong coordination and communication systems based on solid working relationships. These are critical as we collectively face this new COVID-19 challenge.
Over the past week, there have been a number of advisements from the California Department of Public Health and the County Public Health Officer. Today, the County Public Health Officer, issued an updated order, summarized below, that is considered a mandatory legal directive. It is our responsibility to do what we can to “flatten the curve” and minimize the spread of this virus. Please read and follow these orders for the health of our community, which include:
- Large gatherings that include 250 people or more must be postponed or canceled.
- Gatherings for at-risk groups over 10 people must be canceled or postponed, except for family gatherings.
- Smaller gatherings held in venues that do not allow social distancing of six feet per person should be postponed or canceled.
- This includes gatherings such as concerts, conferences, and professional, college, and school sporting events.
- This includes gatherings in crowded auditoriums, rooms or other venues.
Along with most of the other cities in the county, the City of Sonoma has declared a Local Emergency Proclamation which gives us some additional tools to respond to the public health and the economic effects of COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus). While there are no cases of COVID-19 reported in Sonoma Valley as of this writing, this proclamation empowers the City to seek and utilize mutual aid, obtain financial reimbursement, and utilize all of our emergency powers as needed. The Local Emergency proclaimed by the Director of Emergency Services (City Manager) will be considered for ratification by the Sonoma City Council at their meeting on Monday, March 16, 2020. We are using virtual and remote technology tools to coordinate and communicate internally and with our County and community partners. We’re dedicated to providing the best possible service to our residents while following the guidelines provided by our Public Health Agencies to reduce the risk to our community.
The City is reviewing our regular work duties and projects so that we can make adjustments for a period of time while we focus on this COVID-19 emergency. Some projects and agenda items will be put on hold temporarily. For public meetings:
- We have put in new protocols for City Council and Commission meetings to allow for 6 feet of distance between all participants.
- We encourage the public to submit public comments via email at email@example.com ahead of a public meeting due to the social gathering rules.
- We are exploring alternative technologies to ensure robust public access for public meetings while protecting the public, staff and our elected and appointed officials. We appreciate your support and understanding as we swim in these unchartered waters.
The Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers, and the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau are working together with the City to communicate and support our local businesses. Local non-profits are also coordinating with the City to see how we can collectively support our community during this time.
The City has created a webpage at sonomacity.org/coronavirus-resources that we’ll update as new information becomes available and includes links to the Centers for Disease Control, the California Department of Public Health, Sonoma County Department of Emergency Management (the official source of County of Sonoma coronavirus updates), and Sonoma Valley Hospital, as well as links to 2-1-1 Sonoma Information & Resource Hotline. 2-1-1 is a county-wide number for the public to call for information about Coronavirus. In addition to calling, people can call 2-1-1 or text their zip code to 898-211 to be connected with a call taker or visit their website at 211Sonoma.org. Sonoma County has also launched a new Frequently Asked Questions web page — bookmark this site for your future reference.
We appreciate your patience and support as we face this new challenge together. Stay strong Sonoma!
Logan Harvey, Mayor
Cathy Capriola, City Manager