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UPDATE, 3/17/20 — The press conference covering this new policy can be watched here.
UKIAH, 3/16/20 — Late tonight Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan issued an order banning non-essential gatherings greater than 50, and mandating social distancing in gatherings of between 10 – 50 people. These orders have the power of law, and violation of them is a misdemeanor offense punishable by fine or jail. There has as yet been no case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) found in Mendocino County, but public health officials have noted a drastic lack of tests, meaning that we do not have an accurate picture of what is happening. And given the rise of community spread in the Bay Area, and the frequent travel between Mendocino and the Bay, public health officials believe that Mendocino County is under “imminent threat.”
In Sacramento, Governor Gavin Newsom also all restaurants across the entire state to close down, similar to what has been ordered by Los Angeles Mary Gil Garcetti.
Doohan also issued a recommendation, which is not an order, that people in Mendocino County undertake the same shelter-in-place behavior as has been ordered in the Bay Area (San Francisco shelter-in-place order). Violation of this recommendation is not a misdemeanor, and is still just a recommendation. However, these social distancing techniques are the best tools that we, as a society, have for slowing the spread of the disease. And National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, how has been seen frequently at press conferences with President Trump, has noted repeatedly, “…we are overreacting because if it looks like you’re overreacting, you’re probably doing the right thing,”
Dr. Doohan also recommends that Mendocino County residents with plans to travel to the Bay Area cancel their trip; six Bay Area counties plus Santa Cruz issued “shelter in place orders” to residents today, mandating the everyone without an essential job stay at-home, though leaving for walks alone is permissible if a proper distance from other people is kept.
The County of Mendocino will be holding a press conference with further information on Tuesday, March 17 at 12 p.m. The Mendocino Voice will livestream that press conference on our Facebook page.
Here’s our complete coverage of the coronavirus in Mendocino County. Here’s tonight’s announcement from the county:
County Health Officer Issues Order and Recommendation Media Advisory for Press Conference Tuesday March 17 at Noon
Mendocino County Public Health has been actively responding to the threat of COVID-19 since early January 2020. On March 4, 2020, Mendocino County declared a local health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, there is no evidence of community spread in Mendocino County. However, due to the crisis level shortage of testing for this disease and given that nearby San Francisco Bay Area is experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 with extensive community spread, we recognize the imminent threat presented to Mendocino County’s public health due to COVID-19.
Health Officer Order
Due to this rapidly evolving situation and in alignment with the CDC guidance on mass gatherings from March 15, 2020, Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan has ordered a ban on all non-essential public or private gatherings greater than 50 people. For gatherings of 10-50 people, COVID-19 mitigation measures must be implemented, including social distancing by allowing all attendees to stand or sit at least six feet from any other attendee. A violation of an order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
Health Officer Recommendation
Mendocino County is monitoring the recent “shelter in place order” released today in a coordinated effort by the big 6 Bay Area counties (San Francisco, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda). This joint order, which can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2IOHTtR, restricts non-essential activities including: travel outside the home, and directs business modification in those counties (please see San Mateo for examples: https://www.smcgov.org/shelter-place-faqs). At this time, the Mendocino County Health Officer is releasing a recommendation that is in alignment with the Bay Area “shelter in place order.” The Health Officer recommends that Mendocino County residents who have upcoming non-essential travel planned to any of the Bay Area counties are urged to cancel their plans. A recommendation is official guidance issued by the Health Officer.