People planning to travel and attend gatherings on the New Year’s Eve holiday should take steps to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19, Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase, said today.
With the highly contagious omicron variant circulating through the community, the safest measure people can take is getting fully vaccinated and boosted. Vaccines are available for anyone 5 and older, and booster shots are available for people 16 and older. Vaccines have been shown to prevent the worst outcomes from the virus and its variants, including hospitalization and death.
Those who are not vaccinated should avoid travel and holiday gatherings, Dr. Mase said. Other recommendations include:
Keep indoor gatherings small.
Well-fitting approved masks, such as surgical masks, should be worn by everyone at indoor gatherings regardless of vaccination status. Cloth face coverings, including bandanas and buffs, should be avoided.
If your guests are unvaccinated or you don’t know their status, plan gatherings that are small, short and outdoors.
When gathering inside, ventilate well. Open doors and windows, run HVAC systems and install high-quality air filters.
If possible, get tested to know your COVID-19 status before gathering with friends and family.
And stay home if you are sick.
Holiday gatherings now account for 40 percent of new COVID cases with a known source of infection, Dr. Mase noted.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen cases spike around holidays as people gather to celebrate with loved ones,” Dr. Mase said. “Let’s start the new year on the right foot by staying safe and avoiding outbreaks.”
The CDC recommends everyone ages 5 and older receive a COVID-19 vaccine approved for their age group by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. All three vaccines approved by the FDA are safe, effective, free and widely available.
Most vaccine clinics and testing sites are operating modified schedules this week because of the holiday, with most scheduled to be closed on Friday and Saturday. Residents can find information about vaccine clinics and how to make appointments through the county’s vaccine clinic page or through myturn.ca.gov. Residents who need help making an appointment are encouraged to call the county COVID-19 hotline at (707) 565-4667. A calendar of pop-up testing events is available on the county’s testing page.
Some destinations and events require a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination. Research the requirements of your destination or event to ensure you are prepared.