Vaccine mandate in Marin County? Health officer considers in high-risk areas

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Two counties in the North Bay are appealing to its residents to get their coronavirus vaccine as infections are rapidly increasing and the healthcare system is overwhelmed with the surge in hospitalization.

The sudden increase in COVID-19 cases was reported in Marin and Sonoma counties.

“We are seeing that it’s about 85% now of our residents who are infected are being infected with the Delta variant,” Marin County‚Äôs public health officer Dr. Matt Willis said.

“We started to notice an increase in our hospital census approximately two weeks ago. We’ve seen going from a place at most of our hospitals where you would have under 10 patients in the hospital to over 10 at two of our facilities,” Sonoma County-Providence St. Joseph Health Dr. Chad Krilich, meanwhile, said.

For the first time since March, Sonoma County has logged 1, 000 active virus cases.

According to Dr. Krilich, the figures exceed the recorded cases for the last couple of months.

Twenty-two percent of the Sonoma County population is still unvaccinated or is equivalent to 125, 000 people. Dr. Krilich stated that they are deploying efforts to cover the rest of the residents with vaccines.

“We have a mobile health van that is reaching out to places where some of our homeless patients are to get vaccinated. In our hospitals across the providence, we are providing vaccination for patients at the time of discharge,”  Dr. Krilich.

Meanwhile, 85% of Marin County’s population has completed their vaccines, which puts the county among the highest vaccination rates in the state. However, the Delta variant has caused the unexpected to happen. After two months, the county has again seen its unvaccinated resident die due to the virus.

In the last couple of weeks, Marin County has reported 258 virus cases, saying that it is five folds higher than the numbers recorded in the middle of June.

“The Delta variant is very good at finding people who are not vaccinated,” Dr. Willis said.

Given the surge, Dr. Willis said it is among his considerations to have a vaccine mandate for employees in high-risk locations.

He said the announcement could be expected as soon as next week, ABC7 News reported.

“We are seriously considering mandating vaccine in certain high risk settings, not for the population as a whole, but for people whose occupation puts them in close contact with people who are very vulnerable, hospital workers, congregate care settings, skilled nursing facilities, jails and other places where if an outbreak does occur the consequences are much dire,” Dr. Willis said. “For people who are exempt, there’s an alternative to make sure that environment is safe that they be tested on a regular basis because we know that if they are not vaccinated they are in much higher risk for infection.”