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News and Stories from around Sonoma County

Sonoma County Graton Day Labor Center to host COVID-19 Testing

Sonoma County Graton Day Labor Center to host COVID-19 Testing

It is an important step that the county is coming to the Graton Day Labor Center to provide testing for its members. Day Laborers and domestic workers are a vulnerable and underserved population in Sonoma County.  Mostly undocumented and Spanish speaking, they do the work that makes all work possible. Throughout the county they clean homes, care for children and elders, maintain rural and urban properties, work in the fields, assist homeowners with moving, and do back breaking construction labor. 

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Lynda Hopkins Supervisor 5th District - Daily Briefing 5-22-2020

Lynda Hopkins Supervisor 5th District - Daily Briefing 5-22-2020

From Lynda Hopkins :  "Once again, we are proud to see the strength and resilience of our West County communities as there are so many acts of kindness and creative steps forward taking place. Yesterday, as I was in Guerneville, I saw the Russian River Alliance going to laid off worker homes to deliver food cards purchased from local donations as well as a grant from our TIF Funds. West County Community Services has housed more unsheltered community members at the alternative care site in SSU, we've heard from a nationally renowned artist looking at donating a piece of art to the town, and one of our local youths is working on organizing a drive-in movie night. I am so grateful for these and many other positive lights in our community that uplift us all". And as the Health Order is modified to its 3rd itiration, there is some good news for restaurant owners and us as well!  The County has met the State’s COVID-19 Resilience Roadmap criteria for accelerating the opening of lower-risk businesses and public space, but please read more to be aware of the rules and precautions allmust take for health safety. 

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Summer Reading with the Library

Summer Reading with the Library

All Sonoma County residents are invited to sign up for Sonoma County Library’s 2020 Summer Reading Program for a summer of exploration, learning and fun. Readers can also work together to reach an audacious goal, of reading 2 million minutes, county wide, this summer. The 2020 Summer Reading Challenge runs from June 1 through August 8. “We have set a goal for Sonoma County to read 2 million minutes during the course of the summer reading program, and we are asking each participant to read at least 960 minutes during that time. It only takes 20 minutes a day this summer to surpass your 960-minute goal,” said Sonoma County Library Director Ann Hammond. The library’s summer reading program will be mostly online, but reading takes place in person, in the real world. “It starts with a book in your lap. Check it out there is no age limit.

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Legislation to Protect Homeowners Rebuilding After Wildfires Passes Key Senate Committee

Legislation to Protect Homeowners Rebuilding After Wildfires Passes Key Senate Committee

After the devastating wildfires of 2017 and 2018 some homeowners turned to contractors offering great deals, but they had no experience building homes. Homeowners would come to find out that their contractor didn’t have the experience needed to do the job right, or even finish their work. That’s why Senator McGuire introduced legislation   SB 1189 which addresses this issue by eliminating the one-size-fits-all contracting license. SB 1189 will also allow District Attorneys to prosecute unlicensed contracting companies who take advantage of wildfire survivors.

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Pt. Reyes: A Wilderness in Peril - Discussion Call to Action Resources

Pt. Reyes: A Wilderness in Peril - Discussion Call to Action Resources

Join a team of conservationists, biologists, film-makers and local leaders to learn more about our backyard paradise and how it’s being threatened by pollution, habitat loss and giveaways to private industry. Monday May 20 @ 59This week we’ll hear from Ken Bouley who coordinated the analysis of the public comments on Point Reyes General Management Plan for RRI. Ken has published several letters and has been a tremendous advocate for the Park’s return to wilderness. Detailed informational links, guidelines and videos in this notice.

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Who Can/Should Get Tested and Why - Sonoma County Testing Sites

Who Can/Should Get Tested and Why - Sonoma County Testing Sites

Sonoma County encourages anyone who suspects exposure to someone with COVID-19 to get a test (in addition to all those with symptoms). If you are working or planning to return to work soon, please come get tested. If you are worried about getting someone in your house sick, come get tested. If you have symptoms that concern you, like cough or fever, come get tested. Even if you don’t have symptoms, it is still possible to spread coronavirus to others. Community-wide testing is a critical step toward re-opening the County and allows us to identify and increase our understanding of COVID-19 community spread. This includes collecting a broad sample of results from people with or without symptoms. We know that upwards of 40% of people who test positive experience no symptoms (asymptomatic), but can still spread the disease.  You do not need health insurance or id. 

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Sonoma County Updates 2020-21 Budget for Coronavirus Impacts

Sonoma County Updates 2020-21 Budget for Coronavirus Impacts

The County of Sonoma released its 2020-21 recommended budget totaling $1.9 billion, which represents as flat 0.1% change increase from the current FY 2019-20 revised budget.

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Public Health Officer Amends Shelter-in-Place - More Businesses Open

Public Health Officer Amends Shelter-in-Place - More Businesses Open

The Sonoma County Health Officer today amended the Shelter-in-Place Health Order allowing the reopening of additional businesses that provide services, effective at 12:01 a.m. on Friday May 15, 2020. The order specifically lists BUSINESSES that MUST REMAIN CLOSED: outdoor restaurants, cafes, or bars, zoos, amusement parks, indoor gallery and museum spaces and does not apply to personal care services that have close customer contact, including hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, massage parlors, aestheticians and cosmetology, ear piercing salons, and tattoo parlors. 

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Coalition Advances Two-Basin Solution for Russian and Eel River Basins

Coalition Advances Two-Basin Solution for Russian and Eel River Basins

California Trout, the Round Valley Indian Tribes, the County of Humboldt, Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission and Sonoma Water formed the Two-Basin Partnership last fall. The Partnership developed the Feasibility Study Report filed with FERC. The group is also exploring options for developing a governance structure for future ownership and operations of the facilities.  The Partnership is an outgrowth of an ad hoc committee convened by Congressman Jared Huffman. That group identified co-equal goals for a two-basin solution. These include minimizing or avoiding adverse impacts to water supply reliability, fisheries restoration, water quality improvements and recreation enhancements in the Russian and Eel River basins. One specific priority is improving fish passage and habitat on the Eel River with the goal of recovering native migratory fish like salmon and steelhead, including full access to habitat upstream of Scott Dam.

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5th District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins May 15 Briefing

5th District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins May 15 Briefing

As we continue to increase testing and contact tracing to follow the data and be ready to adapt should there be changes, Our Public Health Officer issued new public health order modifications both in parks and for the overall Shelter-In-Place order, relaxing parks access and re-opening some business categories. Since we started tracking ethnicity in COVID reporting we see a Disproportionate impact of COVID is reflected in income disparity - the Latinx community. In District 5 we have providing food support and funding to Undocfund, Latino Family Services, River to the Coast family Services, West County Community Services, and will continue to work to fight the endemic racial injustice that results in the disparities we are seeing in testing and impact of this public health emergency. 

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How Natural Solutions Can Help Protect The Nation’s Most Vulnerable Populations

How Natural Solutions Can Help Protect The Nation’s Most Vulnerable Populations

Nature-based tools are proving to be increasingly vital for climate and health resilience. These natural solutions are especially important for disadvantaged communities, which disproportionately experience the impacts of environmental issues while having the least amount of resources to protect themselves.  State legislators across the country recognize these benefits and are introducing legislation to enable the use of natural infrastructure. For example,a California bill introduced this year would provide grants to school districts or charter schools located in low-income or disadvantaged communities to convert existing pavement at a school to green space. AB 2031 also requires that these parks include a garden to be used as an educational tool for children, providing both health and educational benefits. 

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Education Funding Essential to COVID-19 Recovery and Safe Return to Schools

Education Funding Essential to COVID-19 Recovery and Safe Return to Schools

The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROES Act, passed  208-199. It faces an icy reception in the Republican-controlled Senate, where lawmakers who are concerned its provisions extend beyond pandemic relief, have said they won't consider the bill. Education funding included in the relief package falls short of the goals of education groups, who pushed federal lawmakers to include at least $250 billion for education in the bill.The HEROES Act would create a $90 billlion "state fiscal stabilization fund" for the U.S. Department of Education to support K-12 and higher education. About 65 percent of that fund—or roughly $58 billion—would  go through states to local school districts.

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Virtual Comunity Meeting about Safe Homeless Site Finley Parking Lot

Virtual Comunity Meeting about Safe Homeless Site Finley Parking Lot

A temporary, managed, parking lot site to help individuals experiencing homelessness achieve safe social distancing amid COVID-19, is underway,as directed by State and County health officials’ guidance. Mayor Tom Schwedhelm along with City staff representing Police, Fire, Transportation & Public Works, and Housing & Community Services, as well asa Catholic Charities (the contracted service provider) will all be available during the meeting to provide program information and answer questions about the management of the site. On other news City Park Amenities are to Reopen and The Sonoma County Economic Development Board has partnered with local business sectors and the Sonoma County Department of Health Services to develop SoCo Launch, an online portal featuring all of the resources needed to safely and successfully re-open businesses. 

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Driving to Inland Parks Allowed as Parks Access Expanded in New Health Order

Driving to Inland Parks Allowed as Parks Access Expanded in New Health Order

A directive that allows park agencies to reopen some parking lots and sports facilities was issued  by Dr. Sundari Mase. The health order means residents can drive to inland parks beginning Wednesday, May 13, 2020. The order keeps Sonoma Coast parking areas closed to prevent crowding at beaches but allows coastal residents to walk or bike to nearby parks during limited hours. Facilities that encourage gatherings or have frequently touched surfaces remain closed. These include playgrounds, dog parks, outdoor gym equipment, picnic areas, drinking fountains and barbecues.

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SOCO Public Health Officer Amends Shelter in Place Order for Additional Businesses to Reopen

SOCO Public Health Officer Amends Shelter in Place Order for Additional Businesses to Reopen

The Health Officer Amendment allows additional lesser-risk businesses to open based on a risk-assessment approach and implements Governor Newsom’s plan in Sonoma County.  Governor Newsom emphasized in his announcement that “this is not a return to normal and that the virus is still spreading” but that we can gradually reopen as “science, data and public health dictate. As we move into the next stage of reopening, we will do so with updated guidance to help qualifying businesses make modifications needed to lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure to customers and workers.” To go further into Stage Two, Newsom set out a set of criteria which a County must meet before allowing additional businesses to reopen.

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CDC Information On Antibody Test for COVID-19

CDC Information On Antibody Test for COVID-19

Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections. Antibody tests, check your blood by looking for antibodies, which show if you had a previous infection with the virus. Depending on when someone was infected and the timing of the test, the test may not find antibodies in someone with a current COVID-19 infection. It’s unclear if those antibodies can provide protection (immunity) against getting infected again. This means that we do not know at this time if antibodies make you immune to the virus. CDC is looking at data from antibody tests to estimate the total number of people who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the United States. CDC is also using antibody testing to learn more about how the body’s immune system responds to the virus and to explore how the virus spreads among people exposed to it. 

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Sonoma County Increases COVID-19 Testing

Sonoma County Increases COVID-19 Testing

Sonoma County Increases COVID-19 Testing with Two New Community Testing Sites. Two sites established as part of a partnership between California and OptumServe

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COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing is Available for Workers of Healthcare Facilities

COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing is Available for Workers of Healthcare Facilities

The County has recently received a significant number of swabs critical for testing and is eager to expand its testing capability for COVID-19. To begin, testing will only be available for health care workers with or without symptoms who are encouraged to call and make an appointment at (707) 565-4667.  A health care worker is defined, as any individual employed at a health care facility whose job duties put them in contact with patients regularly. Beginning on Saturday April 25 and continuing for several weeks, the Department of Health Services (DHS) Disease Control Unit will start testing health care workers.

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Closing the Digital Divide in Sonoma County

Closing the Digital Divide in Sonoma County

With the arrival of the pandemic, School systems across Sonoma County — and across the country — have faced an unprecedented challenge: pivoting from a regular school year to at-home learning with only a few days to prepare. Unfortunately, despite the offers of local wireless providers to make internet service low-cost or free, as well as the efforts of local agencies such as the Sonoma County Office of Education to help families take advantage of these offers, many of our rural communities simply do not have the network coverage needed to get onlineIn Sonoma County, the issue of internet access disproportionately affects our rural/remote districts. Students in districts like Horicon,  Two Rock,  and  West Sonoma County Union High School  District are often unable to access online curricular materials and academic support resources. Plese contact the superintendents of the districts affected and let them know how you are affected.

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County of Sonoma Launches Warm Line for Emotional and Mental Health Support

County of Sonoma Launches Warm Line for Emotional and Mental Health Support

County of Sonoma Launches Warm Line for Emotional and Mental Health Support. Beginning on Thursday April 23, a local warm line will be available to support community experiencing emotional stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.The warm line is available to any County resident experiencing emotional side effects of the pandemic and/or the shelter in place order, or knows somebody who is. Service in Spanish is also available as well as telephone interpretation for other languages.

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Coronavirus/COVID-19 Sonoma County Health Centers Care Resources

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Sonoma County Health Centers Care Resources

Sonoma County Community Health Centers are dedicated to providing outstanding health care to everyone – whoever they are, whatever is going on with them, including their ability to pay. Right now, we are waiving our sliding scale fees for those who are uninsured, knowing the financial challenge so many people are facing. It’s also important to remind the community that we don’t ask about immigration status and don’t report any info like that. Our mission is to get people the care they need so they can be healthy. At the national level they have also issued exceptions to the current public-charge rule to support people getting care and it not being a barrier to any public-charge determination.

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Sonoma County Library Invitation to Document The Pandemic

Sonoma County Library Invitation to Document The Pandemic

Sonoma County Library invites community members to document history. Once the crisis is resolved and it is safe to bring items to the library, residents will be invited to bring in journals, photos, drawings, letters, scrapbooks and other two-dimensional physical documents that tell the story of life in Sonoma County during this time.

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Financial Assistance for Covid-19 Related Layoffs

Financial Assistance for Covid-19 Related Layoffs

While the Lower Russian River Workforce Fund does not have the capacity to help everyone impacted with rent, there are ideas and programs to help assist as many people as we can with our limited budget and small volunteer staff. Sonoma County Gazette compiled information and resources for all of the County, and added it here. This resource page will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Covid-19 Family Resources via United Way

Covid-19 Family Resources via United Way

Corvid 19 era compilation of family supports such as cash assistance, health or dental coverage, nutritional supports, or low-cost internet services, food banks or school meal programs, assistance paying for utilities, temporary shelter or housing supports,  low-cost health coverage for children and adults with limited income and many more.

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Local Guide for takeout food

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Shelter-in-Place Sonoma County Business Directory - Coronavirus-COVID-19 Mandate.

Shelter-in-Place Sonoma County Business Directory - Coronavirus-COVID-19 Mandate. This is a work-in-process. PLEASE HELP US by sending missing info to editor@sonomacountygazette.com.

Fine Tree Care - Sonoma County Tree Services

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Flip through the pages of the print edition of the 2020 Sonoma County Gardeners Resource Guide

Your 2020 GUIDE to support locally-owned garden businesses and natural landscaping practices.

LOCAL GUIDE to Cannabis Dispensaries and Delivery Services, Sonoma County & Beyond.

LOCAL GUIDE to Cannabis Dispensaries and Delivery Services, Sonoma County & Beyond.All dispensaries have verified their information.