COVID-19: Marin County 'seriously considering' vaccine mandate in some settings, health officer says

SONOMA, Calif. (KGO) -- As COVID-19 cases surge, two North Bay counties are asking their residents to get vaccinated before a rise in hospitalization stress their medical system.

Marin and Sonoma County are reporting a fast uptick in cases.

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

RELATED: Delta variant described as 'new beast' as UCSF doctors gear up for potential peak this October

"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," said Dr. Chad Krilich, chief medical officer for Sonoma County - Providence St. Joseph Health.

Sonoma County is reporting 1,000 active COVID-19 cases for the first time since March.

Dr. Krilich says their numbers are higher than what they've seen for the last two months.

In Sonoma County, 22% of the population is unvaccinated. That's about 125,000 people. Dr. Krilich says they are working to reach that last percent of unvaccinated residents.

VIDEO: SoCal man, 34, who mocked vaccines dies of COVID-19
EMBED More News Videos

A Southern California man in his 30s who openly mocked vaccines in social media posts has died after a hospitalization for COVID-19.



"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," said Dr. Krilich.

Marin County has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state with more than 85% of the population fully vaccinated, but as the Delta variant takes hold what they anticipated happened. This week, an unvaccinated resident died, the first COVID death in two months.

Marin County is also reporting 258 COVID cases in the last two weeks, confirming that's more than five times the number they reported in mid-June.

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

RELATED: Spiking Bay Area COVID hospitalizations 'almost exclusively' among unvaccinated, experts say

And for the first time Dr. Willis revealing the surge is making him consider a vaccine mandate for workers in high-risk settings, an announcement he could be making as early as next week.

"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," said Dr. Willis.

Dr. Willis said they are still discussing this possibility and "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."

VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine

Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.

RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:

Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.