Dose supply tight in Sonoma County as state opens up vaccine eligibility

Sonoma County is calling on California to send more coronavirus vaccines.

"Significant resources have been directed to expanding our capacity," wrote Board of Supervisors Chair Lynda Hopkins in a letter sent to California Health and Human Services. "It is disappointing that this effort has been met with a decreasing supply of vaccines for our community."

At a Monday briefing, health officials explained that allocations to the county have been flat since February and will continue that way, even though Sonoma has a higher proportion of at-risk homeless people and agriculture workers than comparable counties.

"We are very hopeful that the state has heard our pleas and will give us more vaccine," said Ken Tasseff, Sonoma County Vaccine Coordinator.

Tasseff said the next three weeks bring reductions in dose deliveries, even as the state opens eligibility to successively more people.

"That gives people a false sense of hope," complained Hopkins, who urged younger people to voluntarily hang back after they become eligible April 15, and let older folks go first.

"I want to make sure people around me are safe and healthy," said Petaluma resident Israel, who at 25, plans to delay.

"It's not just me trying to fight the virus, it's everyone."

That communal spirit is something the CDC Director is trying to tap, as she implores the public and politicians to maintain COVID precautions.

"We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential and reason for hope, but right now I'm scared," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky at a Monday briefing.

Walensky became emotional as she urged Americans who are tempted to travel and socialize to show restraint.

"I'm going to reflect here on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom," she said, pointing to an upward trajectory of U.S. cases akin to Germany, Italy, and France a few weeks ago.

Those countries are now experiencing a spike in new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

"We can change the trajectory of this pandemic but it will take all of us," Walensky said.

Her ominous message was well-taken in Sonoma County, poised to soon enter California's orange tier.

"I am very worried about a coming surge," said a Petaluma resident who gave his name as Brian. "I am worried for the state and this city, and I am worried people are letting their guards down too soon."

Added another passerby, 24-year-old Malia, "I won't be surprised if there is another surge just because summer's coming up and everyone's ready to go out."

California, especially compared to states like Florida and Texas, has reopened cautiously and still limits crowds and indoor capacity.

"We are preparing to move into the orange tier, but we want to do it safely and carefully," said Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County Public Health Officer. "That way we can avoid the kind of surges other states and regions have experienced."

Walensky's dire warning comes as some states drop precautions, including masks, although variants are rising.

On Tuesday she plans to ask state Governors directly to "buckle down" and not reopen too fast.

"As a wife, as a mother, and a daughter, please hold on just a while longer."