Solano County health officials held a virtual town hall last week to discuss the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Mass vaccination began this month, beginning with Phase 1 participants. This includes frontline health workers, first responders, and seniors age 75 and above. Other tiers are expected to open once more vaccines become available. Currently, there is more demand than supply. County leaders are hunting for spaces to use as mass vaccination sites once more tiers open up. Dr. Christine Wu, Solano’s deputy public health officer, said the goal is to immunize everyone. She advised people to continue to take social distancing precautions and wear masks until it is their turn to be vaccinated. “We are still months away from getting everyone who wants a vaccine, vaccinated,” stated Wu.
The hospitals in Solano County are working diligently to protect their community. “We are responsible for vaccinating our patients, and we take this role very seriously. Sutter is engaging with state and local public health officials to identify opportunities to partner on broader community vaccination efforts as supply increases,” said Sutter Health in a statement.
NorthBay Healthcare is also harboring high hopes. “NorthBay is vaccinating about 500 patients 65 and older each day, focusing on reaching those 75 and older. The first group that will receive the vaccine is about 6,000 local residents who regularly see NorthBay primary care physicians. Meanwhile, NorthBay, Kaiser, and Solano County Public Health are working closely together to get create vaccine clinics that are open to all, hope to be up and running early next month.”
This vaccine brings hope to many small business owners, but the pandemic overall is still keeping them on their toes. Jamil Zainasheff, Owner of Heretic Brewing Co. in Fairfield, said to the Chamber “We are always hopeful, as we believe in our community. It is one of strength and resilience. However, it does look like it is going to be quite sometime before business returns to pre-pandemic conditions. Some consumer behaviors may have been permanently altered by this past year and will never be the same. While you may see increased business activity by the fall of 2021, it might not be until the summer of 2022 before things seem relatively normal.”
Fah Sathirapongsasuti, co-owner of the Suisun Valley Wine Co-op said “The pandemic has had an outsized impact on our older customers, who are some of the most loyal, long-time supporters. We are hopeful that the vaccines will allow them to come visit us more. We also look forward to getting ourselves vaccinated because a number of our staff are in the more vulnerable age groups. It will bring us peace of mind that we can stay healthy and keep our guests safe when we operate the tasting room.”
Larger corporations are paying their employees to get the vaccine. According to the Wall Street Journal, Trader Joe’s will give employees two hours of pay to receive the vaccine. Instacart is offering a $40 stipend. Darden Restaurants, the parent company to Olive Garden, is giving its hourly employees up to four hours of paid time off. None of these companies are making the vaccination mandatory, but leaving it as an option for their workforce.
Kaiser Permanente has a COVID-19 Return to Work Playbook for businesses learning how to better operate to meet public health guidelines and keep their workforce safe and healthy. You can access the playbook here: COVID-19 Return to Work Playbook
Solano County is currently in the Purple tier of the State’s Public Health Order, meaning many non-essential indoor businesses are still closed or operating with heavy limitations. In order to operate at the less restrictive Red tier, the county must have less than an 8% positivity rate for three straight weeks. It is currently at a 13% positivity rate. As the county moves between tiers, employees across many industries can start returning to work.
Solano’s Board of Supervisors directed County Administrator Birgitta Corsello to send a “strongly worded” letter to Governor Gavin Newsom stating the county wants more control over how to manage businesses during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Bela Matyas, the county public health officer, said Solano County was one of the first counties to begin tracing transmission sources. Of the 300 disease clusters identified in the county, none shows transmission from a business to its customers. The notion is that if businesses enact the proper safety protocols, only the businesses that cater to large crowds, such as concert venues, would not be able to be open at the moment.
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