Q&A: What we know about omicron so far in Sonoma County – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

January 14, 2022
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For information about how to schedule a vaccine in Sonoma County, go here.
To track coronavirus cases in Sonoma County, across California, the United States and around the world, go here.
For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.
A rapid spike in COVID-19 cases is being felt across Sonoma County as the omicron variant forces the cancellation of public gatherings, delays sporting events and threatens to overwhelm local hospitals.
The Press Democrat reached out to readers to ask what you would like to know and received a wave of questions related to the omicron variant, testing and best practices to avoid spreading the virus.
People who contracted COVID-19 and recovered could be subject to catching it again, according to health experts.
It may even be easier to become reinfected, according to preliminary findings from the Mayo Clinic.
According to a news release, the virus replicates much faster than previous variants, said Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group.
“For example, for somebody whose previously been infected with COVID, their chance of getting reinfected with omicron is almost 5½-fold higher than reinfection with delta,” Poland said in the release.
By Wednesday, COVID-19 hospitalizations increased from about 25 a day to more than 80 now in Sonoma County, according to the department of health.
At the highest point during this pandemic, Sonoma County’s hospitals averaged 104 COVID-19 patients each day, said Ted Appel, a county spokesperson.
“But the state is projecting in its modeling that we could average more than 380 hospitalizations by the time this surge is done,” Appel said.
A Sonoma County nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, told a Press Democrat reporter that her hospital was facing shortages of PPE and medical and cleaning supplies as well as overworked nurses and a deluge of new patients.
Recent infection rates for unvaccinated residents were 100.7 new daily cases per 100,000 people, compared to 38.9 per 100,000 people for those who are vaccinated.
Symptoms of omicron may look similar to the common cold or the flu, but it is not the same, experts say.
Symptoms of all the COVID-19 variants include fever, fatigue, cough, shortness of breath and even loss of smell and taste.
If you have any of these symptoms, experts recommend immediately testing and isolating.
There is no evidence that omicron can spread in recreational waters like public swimming pools, experts say.
However, Sonoma County health officials require public pools to maintain social distancing of six feet and follow cleaning guidelines and occupancy limits.
Under California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s emergency temporary standards, employers must require employees to stay home for at least five days if they test positive or have symptoms.
The surge in cases caused by the spread of omicron has led to new rules from Cal-OSHA, including the rule that at-home tests will no longer be allowed. The new regulations begin Friday.
Regardless of vaccination status, Sonoma County’s guidelines advise staying home for at least five days following a positive test, and wearing a mask around others for at least 10 days.
Testing Positive 1.7.2022.pdf
The CDC’s new guidelines, released Dec. 27, say that people infected with the coronavirus can end isolation after five days instead of 10 in most cases, without a negative test result.
Experts with the CDC says people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the few days before and after symptoms develop.
Dr. Amy Karger of the University of Minnesota Medical School recommends that people test themselves three days to five days after exposure if possible.
COVID-19 cases in California are anticipated to peak in mid to late January, Appel said.
Hospitalizations caused by the virus could peak in Sonoma County sometime in the next two weeks and begin to subside in late January, according to state models.
“The number of hospitalizations will depend in part on how many people are fully up to date on their vaccines and boosted when eligible,” Appel said.
Sonoma County could see nearly 400 COVID-19 hospitalizations later this month, based on the rate people are getting boosted, he added.
For more answers to your questions, go to www.pressdemocrat.com/omicron.
Staff writers Martin Espinoza and Kaylee Tornay contributed reporting.
You can reach Staff Writer Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or alana.minkler@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @alana_minkler.
For information about how to schedule a vaccine in Sonoma County, go here.
To track coronavirus cases in Sonoma County, across California, the United States and around the world, go here.
For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.
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