Mendocino County Public Health announced yesterday evening that four more County residents have died of the COVID-19 virus. As the number of community deaths mounts, Public Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren is implementing a new health order requiring local restaurants to display signage to the public that indicates the level of risk the establishment represents based on its employee vaccination requirement and the whether vaccinated customers could eat inside or out.
The four recently announced deaths make Mendocino County’s total lives lost to the virus 75. The 72nd death was a 66-year-old Gualala woman who passed away on September 12 while traveling in Riverside County who was reportedly fully vaccinated with “multiple comorbidities.” The 73rd death was an unvaccinated 79-year-old Ukiah man who passed away on September 17. The 74th resident to die from the virus was an 85-year-old woman who was reportedly fully vaccinated with multiple comorbidities who passed on September 17. The county’s 75th resident to pass away from the virus was a 98-year-old fully vaccinated Ukiah woman who passed away on September 20.
Dr. Coren said these deaths are occurring amidst a surge he associated with the Labor Day holiday. Regarding the vaccinated status of three of the four deaths, Dr. Coren said, “They were elderly with many comorbidities. Overall, however, vaccines are proven effective.”
Regarding the new Public Health Order Dr. Andy Coren has implemented, all businesses that serve food or drink indoors will be required to have one of three signs designed to represent the risks associated with that business’s precautions they are taking to limit the spread of the virus.
In a press release published by Public Health, the three signs and the criteria to qualify for each were described below:
If employees are either vaccinated or test weekly AND patrons must be vaccinated to dine inside, that business will display a green sign.
If employees are either vaccinated or test weekly but patrons do not need to be vaccinated to dine inside, that business will display a yellow sign.
If the business has no knowledge of whether employees are vaccinated or if they test AND if patrons do not need to be vaccinated to dine inside, that business will display a red sign.
The press release asserts COVID-19 risk is heightened within enclosed spaces and an “even greater risk when not masked” so this colored system will “help consumers make smart choices about which restaurants and businesses are following best practices when it comes to slowing the spread of COVID-19.”
Mendocino County is not the first California county to adopt notices such as these. The press release goes so far as to say that counties such as Marin, Long Beach, Tulare, and Contra Costa counties passed “stricter regulations than Mendocino.” Within the press release, Dr. Coren is quoted as saying, “Our community members deserve to be free to choose what’s safe enough for them. This is only possible with transparency—which these signs accomplish.”
The order specifies that staff and customers within an establishment are required to keep their masks on except when eating and drinking. This order goes into effect on November 1, 2021. If businesses do not post these signs, “law enforcement could impose fines for non-compliance.”
Dr. Coren states in the press release that non-food establishments have reached out to Public Health hoping to display one of these signs because “they are proud of their anti-covid practices and are posting a green sign!”
Stephanie Dunken, one of the owners of inland Mendocino’s Slam Dunk Pizza, said, “I feel that this lays things out for businesses to operate inside their comfort zone with the public, all while the consumer can make a decision to dine in or not.”
John Strangio, one of the owners of Ukiah Valley Athletic Club, said this public health order “gives people the information they need to make the comfortable choice for their families.” He added the order shows, “Dr. Coren being a real person trying to keep our community safe from COVID, at the same time listening to businesses and their struggles!”