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Sonoma County Gazette

Health and Well Being

Staying healthy is a high priority for many. Here in Sonoma County we have plenty of fresh air, opportunities to exercise, and health pracitioners in a broad range of modalities. If you have information you want to share with our readers, please send us your articles.

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2020-03-27Mar 27, 2020

The federal relief package recently approved to address the pandemic does provide 14 paid sick days. But, the federal legislation includes gigantic loopholes. Companies with more than 500 workers (McDonald’s, Marriott, Exon, Chase Manhattan, and Wal-Mart) are exempted — and firms with less than 50 employees can apply for a hardship exemption. Only 20 percent of the entire workforce is covered by the new federal paid sick leave policy. Governor Newsom and the legislature should now enact legislation comparable to New York, providing emergency 14 day paid sick days for Californians affected by the coronavirus — but our state and local elected officials should go much further and make paid sick leave permanent. 

2020-03-20Mar 20, 2020
2020-03-20Mar 20, 2020

With the COVID-19 outbreak spreading and shelter-in-place orders coming down across the state, we at CAFF are working hard to keep our local food system running strong, our family farmers in business and our communities safe and healthy. While confusion abounds during this ever-developing COVID-19 crisis, one thing is clear: a strong, healthy, local food system is absolutely essential during times like these. So what can consumers do right now to help assure that our family farms stay in business and the many people who comprise of our shared food system can weather this storm? From  joining a CSA  to ordering direct from farms online to making sure our most vulnerable have food CAFF has compiled a few tips.

2020-03-18Mar 18, 2020

As our community responds to the evolving coronavirus emergency,  the Regional Parks remain open as a public resource under Sonoma County's latest health order. Although we are directed to stay home as much as possible, we can go outdoors to exercise. With the support of Sonoma County's leadership, the parks, trails and beaches will remain open and  parking fees will be waved. Being able to stay active and benefit from the calming effects of nature is crucial at a time like this, and the parks are open to you for walking, running, hiking and biking.

2020-03-18Mar 18, 2020

Day 1 ending with the Shelter in Place Order. The most common questions we are receiving are around what businesses are open. The below list is the overall type of businesses that remain open. In the next section, we are starting a series listing regional restaurants that are offering delivery or take-out options. What businesses can remain open? Grocery stores, restaurants (take-out only), pharmacies, doctor’s offices, hospitals, gas stations, banks, public transit, childcare, and senior care.

2020-03-18Mar 18, 2020

If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own. Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expected to return to work with their employer within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week.

2020-03-14Mar 14, 2020

In a precautionary effort to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, in Sonoma County and the state, Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS) and Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE), are recommending that Sonoma County school districts temporarily suspend in-person classes through at least March 27.  Most school districts are on spring break March 17-21, 2020, so these recommendations would be enacted the following week, beginning March 23, 2020.

2020-03-12Mar 12, 2020

Local Virtual Town Hall on The Coronavirus Emergency by Supervisor Lynda Hopkins on theCounty of Sonoma Youtube channel:

2020-03-06Mar 6, 2020

Sonoma County finally received a COVID-19 test kit which will enable us to test for novel coronavirus locally. I want to give a huge shout-out to Senator Mike McGuire and Congressman Mike Thompson for leaning in and fighting hard for Sonoma County to be able to stand up our local lab testing. In the meantime, continue to wash your hands and face; avoid touching your face; cough/sneeze into your elbow; and stay home if you’re sick. Bust out that thermometer and check your temperature. "Try to avoid anxiety or panic if you do fall ill, because you may well just have a common cold! Also 80 percent of corona illnesses are mild. If everyone with a cold floods their local emergency rooms, it will be harder for health-care workers to treat patients who are critically ill. Plus, you could pick up the virus in the hospital if you don’t already have it."



2020-02-27Feb 27, 2020

The Department of Health Services (DHS) is working closely with other Bay Area health departments, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to closely monitor the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).Currently, the risk for being infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in the U.S. remains low.The CDC has closely monitored an outbreak of coronavirus from China since early January and has declared a public health emergency for the US. we shouldn’t be panicking, but some preparation is never a bad idea.


2020-02-06Feb 6, 2020

Our historic record of grassroots activism is what gives us the quality of life we all treasure. We have established a spider web of protected areas, greenbelts and parks that serve as community separators. When I’ve gone to public hearings and meetings where people are working to further preserve these areas from development and degradation, I’m both impressed and alarmed that often it’s the same people who fought to establish the initial protections for these areas who are still the ones fighting to protect them. At forty-six years old, I can look around the room and ask, where is the rest of my generation? Do we take these lands that our predecessors saved for granted? Are we willing to stand up for our open spaces? 

2020-03-26Mar 26, 2020

Protocols outlined by the Community Market applies to all Food markets. The number one priority is to keep customers, the community and workers safe.  Hourly changes  are being closely monitored in the coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols through the CDC and the County Health Departments. The goal is to continue to provide groceries, nutritional supplements and natural remedies to customers in the midst of the current challenges to our health and well-being. 

2020-02-05Feb 5, 2020

So now Gazette readers know I sold the Gazette to Sonoma Media Investments and very little has changed. I’m still working way-too long hours, but over time that will change. My most compassionate reader-friends wish me well and understand. Others are afraid of the change and other changes that will come in the future. Nothing stays the same. But I’m old and tired and I need to get a life. I love what I do. Don’t get me wrong. I really do. But there has to be a way for the Gazette to continue without me so I don’t die at this desk!

2020-02-04Feb 4, 2020

This is the decade of hope. Hope that we will finally stop the war against people and a plant by legalizing cannabis in the USA and around the globe. Hope that globally we are increasingly focused on real-time solutions to help sink carbon and restore climate stability. Interestingly, Industrial Hemp, and its use as a fiber, fuel, food, and much more is available to support this transition and both frees the plant and gets us off the carbon-economy.


2020-02-02Feb 2, 2020

On December 31, 2019, Edward M. Chen, U.S. District Judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California,  dismissed an EPA motion for summary judgement (MSJ) in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Fluoride lawsuit. This means the lawsuit will go forward. The trial has been rescheduled to begin Monday April 20 and will run for two weeks. Judge Chen delivered his ruling on New Year's Eve. 

2020-01-31Jan 31, 2020

Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris, the new California Surgeon General, has made Adverse Childhood Experiences (or ACEs) a focus of her work.  You can see her on aTED talk that explores the topic. Children growing up with toxic stress may have particular difficulty with forming healthy and stable relationships. This may all lead to erratic work histories as adults and ongoing struggles with finances, jobs, and depression throughout life. Many chronic illnesses are much more likely in people with higher numbers of childhood ACEs.   

2020-01-29Jan 29, 2020

“In the 2016-2020 AAA Community Report, 57% of Sonoma County older adults and persons with disabilities stated they are concerned about access to local transportation,” says County of Sonoma Adult and Aging Division Director Paul Dunaway. From January-March 2020, the AAA will host several discussion groups throughout the County under a grant from the state Department of Transportation, Caltrans, to study how well local transportation systems serve older adults age 60+ and residents with disabilities.

2020-01-27Jan 27, 2020

In partnership with Sonoma County Library, SAY’s mental health clinicians will be hosting a series of weekly and bi-weekly drop-in wellness groups for youth ages 12-19. These groups will be focused on supporting mental wellness and healthy ways to cope with challenges. Possible topics include: normal responses to loss and change, identifying complex emotions, and making meaningful choices. 


2020-01-11Jan 11, 2020

As Americans grow more dissatisfied with their insurance arrangements, public discussion about the wisdom of switching to a system sometimes referred to as Medicare for All has grown. There’s more press attention to this topic than I have ever seen. What’s not been discussed, however, is how providing health care for everyone and controlling prices are interrelated.

2020-01-10Jan 10, 2020

Sonoma County is planning to move occupants of the Joe Rodota Trail (trail) to permanent supportive housing and sheltering in other locations in the County by January 31, 2020.  The county is working to establish hardened shelter units, which are secure and private, with locking windows and doors. They've already ordered 30 pallet shelters.


2020-01-07Jan 7, 2020

The Forestville Wellness Center (FWC) sustained significant smoke damage from a non-structural fire that occurred early Friday morning, January 3, 2020.  Services will continue uninterrupted in an alternate location in Sebastopol while the facility is under repair.West County Health Centers is extremely grateful to the Forestville Fire Department for their immediate response to the incident which prevented more serious damage. West County Health Centers remains the sole provider of primary medical services for the unincorporated areas of western Sonoma County and one of the few providers of dental and behavioral health services available to Medi-Cal recipients. West County Health Centers is accepting donations from people who want to help the Forestville Wellness Center with the cost of repairs.  Please visit  to donate.

2019-12-25Dec 25, 2019

In late November, Governor Newsom took a dramatic step in moving towards some actual solutions to the climate crisis. By limiting new oil and gas drilling in California, he has gone beyond rhetoric and acted to stop the destructive practices that are causing climate and health problems. As a practicing physician and a County Public Health Officer, I am seeing firsthand the health impacts from climate change.

2020-03-25Mar 25, 2020

Sonoma County and all of Northern California is facing an urgent situation as hundreds of blood drives across the state have been canceled due to the coronavirus.

More than 50 percent of mobile donations generated from blood drives have canceled in the month of March across the Bay Area and that challenging trend will likely continue into April and May. It is completely safe to donate blood at this time. Blood bank staff follow rigorous safety and disinfection protocols at blood drives – and they will be taking temperatures before donors give blood. Blood drives are considered an essential service. Donating blood is a truly meaningful way to make a difference.

2019-12-23Dec 23, 2019

An open discussion with local health professionals and community experts on how we get there. Saturday, February 8  9:30-noon, Odd Fellows Hall, 545 Pacific Ave, Santa Rosa.


2019-12-04Dec 4, 2019

The magic of Blank Days can only happen when zero is planned. We moved leisurely from eating hot biscuits with savory gravy at Big Bottom Market to a competitive four-leaf clover hunt in Armstrong Woods. Then to singing rap songs by Grand Master Flash in the RV to putt-putt and ice cream cones at Pee Wee Golf with a finale dinner at the Russian River Pub to check it off the Diner's Drive-Ins and Dives list.

2019-12-04Dec 4, 2019

I was alone at home and rushing through the morning before leaving in less than an hour.  I knew that if I left now, I’d be early.  I could knit, read, meditate. Instead I’m looking for yarn. Certain yarn. I’m getting it all out now, might as well. You are supposed to look at your yarn at least annually. “Is that all of it?” I asked myself.  “ Perhaps just beyond where I can see…this was not a good idea. Whoa! Losing balance! Whew. Shit. Didn’t hit head. No blood, but let’s check this arm here. Whooo, not good. Should not look like this. “ I close my eyes, swoon, and breathe.  The Center for Mind Body Medicine training shelped me through this.

2019-11-20Nov 20, 2019

CAL/OSHA has issued emergency regulations that require employers to take protective measure to safeguard their employees who work outdoors.

2019-11-20Nov 20, 2019

We had a really challenging experience in late October with the fires and the PG&E power shut-off.  With the climate situation continuing to worsen, all scientific predictions are that these circumstances will increase in frequency. Preparation is very important, especially if you have some medical issues. 

2019-11-12Nov 12, 2019

The inspiration for Osmosis was born in Japan the day I took my first enzyme bath in the spring of 1984.  As the healing warmth of the bath enveloped my entire body, I was relieved of a crushing nerve pain that had plagued my body for months. At the same time, I dropped into an indescribable experience of sensing the entire universe like never before. As a minuscule part of this journey, a vivid picture of a healing sanctuary with the enzyme bath at the core surrounded by meditative Japanese style gardens and gracious hospitality flashed before my minds eye. From this remarkable moment, I knew it was my calling to bring the Japanese enzyme bath back to West County. 

2019-11-06Nov 6, 2019

Legacy Fire Relief Program offering free counseling to community members who were in need of treatment as a result of the fires..With the Kincade Fire, we now have more people who need care from this traumatic event. Also, people with PTSD from prior events are seeking care as this fire, the loss of home and work, the evacuation, and power losses have triggered symptoms again.

2019-10-24Oct 24, 2019

While California’s cannabis market is bursting with countless new brands and flourishing with innovation and sophistication, with products in gorgeous packaging, a surprising majority are made with mass produced, low quality ingredients like distillate, isolate and corn syrup. Gasp. The fact that many of us are just happy to be able to legally acquire cannabis products has precluded many of us from asking the important questions about the source and quality of a product..

2019-10-23Oct 23, 2019

With the current health crisis around vaping, especially in young people, it seems to be a good time to look at how the e-cigarette phenomenon is influencing youth involvement with nicotine.  “The CDPH urges everyone to refrain from vaping, no matter the substance or source, until current investigations are complete.”  Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday directed the county health officials to figure out a way to ban nicotine vaporizers and flavored tobacco products rather than waiting on the federal government to act.

2019-10-22Oct 22, 2019

The Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County, through the Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative, offers free help for those recovering from the devastating fires of 2017. The Collaborative’s goal is to ensure that Sonoma County residents learn to recognize the signs of mental health distress and have access to resources and services for personal recovery, as well as long-term healing and resiliency skill-building. Working with mental health experts from local and national associations, as well as a network of clinics and nonprofits, the Collaborative has put together a county-wide approach to healing that includes evidence-based methods. 

2020-03-25Mar 25, 2020

While we all know the value of parks to our mental and emotional well-being, especially during this difficult time of sheltering in place, we are convinced this order of closer of our parks is the right move. We want to help make a real difference in the outcome of this crisis. The closure order is in effect until further notice. To explain what the closures mean, we’ve prepared answers to some frequently asked questions. Cierran Todos Los Parquesdentro del Condado de Sonoma, Actualizar 25/03/2020 - Respuestas a Preguntas Frecuentes. Read more to get some answers.  

2019-10-16Oct 16, 2019

When people think of teachers they rarely think of horses when, in fact, horses are first-rate educators who can teach young children and teens a variety of useful skills that promote lifelong learning, success, and fulfillment. 

2020-03-23Mar 23, 2020

California State Parks today announced the launch of a campaign titled “Flatten the COVID-19 Curve at Parks” to remind the public to practice social distancing of 6 ft. or more when visiting state parks or any outdoor area. The parks may close if the public does not practice social distancing. During these difficult times, protecting park staff, volunteers, partners and visitors from the exposure to coronavirus is critical.

2020-03-22Mar 22, 2020

UndocuFund is Re-activated to Help our Undocumented Community Members Through COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis. An estimated 38,500 undocumented immigrants live in Sonoma County. Unlike other victims, undocumented immigrants, even though they pay taxes, do not qualify for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Even when they do qualify for services, many undocumented immigrants are unlikely to pursue those benefits due to fear of immigration enforcement, lack of familiarity with official institutions, and limited English proficiency. At every turn, our undocumented neighbors face barriers and challenges to recovering from disasters.

2020-03-22Mar 22, 2020

Sonoma County is encouraging the public, businesses and organizations to donate new, unused personal protective equipment to assist first responders, health care providers, and health care facilities responding to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

2020-03-21Mar 21, 2020

Expect to see a marked increase in the number of tests in Sonoma County. While the Public Health Lab has been turning around tests same-day, there has been a substantial delay and backlog of tests in the private health labs. As these private labs ramp up and get caught up on this backlog, we can expect to see many more test results here in Sonoma County.

2020-03-20Mar 20, 2020

On Thursday, Governor Newsom issued a Stay at Home order to protect the health and well being of all Californians. The State has also launched a website with information on California's response. The County of Sonoma Shelter in Place order is consistent with the State order and no major changes are expected due to this addition. In keeping with my pledge to keep answering your questions and keep you informed, we've now held two live facebook chats. You can view the video for last night's session (March 19)here. Our schedule for these fireplace live chats is every Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday at 8:30 pm on my public facebook page here. Please join us with your questions in english or in spanish.

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