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The amount of people dying from the virus in Sonoma County is skyrocketing again. The Press Democrat reports the first week of the new year brought over 20 more deaths from the pandemic. County health officials say ten of the 22 were reported yesterday, and 8 on Tuesday. But ten is the most the county has had in one day so far. The Sheriff’s office has a new refrigeration for as many as 56 bodies at one time if the morgue reaches its limit. Health experts say we’re still not into the travel and holiday portion of an expected surge in cases again. The county’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Sundari Mase says the rise in deaths and hospitalizations shows it remains widespread in the county and that it’s important to follow public health orders and personal safety rules, including masking, hand-washing and social distancing.

Two of the North Coast congressional members are speaking out about the President and his connection to the insurrection at the US Capitol on Wednesday. Congressmen Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson say the President needs to be removed from office. First House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced they were trying to convince the Vice President to invoke the 25th amendment. But Thompson and Huffman say they will support articles of impeachment which were widely being circulated yesterday online and in the halls of Congress.  House speaker Pelosi blamed Mr. Trump for inciting an armed insurrection against America after his supporters descended on the Capitol wreaking havoc. 5 people died.

A small airplane had to make an abrupt landing near Lake Sonoma that sent out a search party. Nobody was injured in the impromptu landing yesterday in northwestern Sonoma County. The CHP got a report of a downed plane around 4-30 near Dry Creek Road and Stewarts Point Skaggs Springs Road, northwest of Healdsburg. That triggered Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies, a CHP helicopter and firefighters from Cloverdale, Dry Creek Rancheria and Northern Sonoma County to report to the area. The plane was found on a sandbar. The Northern Sonoma County Fire Chief said thankfully the water was low so the area was flat enough for the pilot, who was alone on the plane, to land. The pilot had left and walked to a nearby home and the plane was not damaged.

No in person driving tests are being allowed right now by the DMV due to the pandemic. The Department of Motor Vehicles announced all in person tests are postponed until at least Feb. 1st due to the continued rise in COVID-19 cases. So anyone with an appointment will be notified their appointment is being rescheduled. It includes commercial and noncommercial licenses, but because motorcycle tests can still be done at a distance, they will continue. Those who have to wait and have expired licenses or permits will get an automatic extension for six more months of expiration, or 24 months from the date of an application, whichever comes first. Commercial driver licenses are only extended until the end of Feb.

New coronavirus vaccine recommendations have been sent out to local public health departments and healthcare providers. The recommendations show the new tiered groupings of who should get the vaccine by priority. But health departments and providers can also offer shots to lower priority groups after the high-priority demand lessens or doses may expire. As of yesterday there had been over 586,000 doses administered and over 2 million doses sent out to local health departments. Those include first and second doses.  The Governor announced too that continued safety measures are needed to get through the current surge, which includes distributing the vaccine in an equitable way. The Governor says the goal is to administer a million vaccinations over the next 10 days.

50 more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Mendocino County. The county’s public health department also announced free testing in Willits this morning from 8:30-10:30 at the Willits Senior Center. Also this afternoon in Covelo. Check the Public Health Dept. Facebook page for more info.

State Sen. Mike McGuire has put forth a bill for local small businesses struggling due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The bill would roll back a Trump administration tax for limited liability companies and partnerships and “S” corporations. It would give these companies the option to pay the yearly tax based on net income for the prior year, which McGuire says would give money back to the companies dealing with the ongoing crisis. McGuire blames the Trump administration for instituting the tax in certain states which hurt middle-class families and small businesses across Calif. The bill would roll back the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law in 2018. His bill will allow a deduction of state and local taxes from federal taxes.

A lawmaker from San Francisco says he’s drafted a bill to make it easier for the elderly or those with disabilities to apply for food stamps, known in Calif. as CalFresh. They could potentially do the whole process on the phone, if his bill passes. He announced the bill this week, noting the state’s food insecurity crisis is worse than ever. Sen. Scott Wiener’s bill would streamline the process which includes lots of long questions, putting forth evidence of need and then having an interview. Right now less than half of the counties in the state allow the phone in process.  Over 4 million people are reportedly enrolled in Cal Fresh currently.

The workload of nurses in Calif has skyrocketed during the pandemic. Nurses were only allowed to have a certain amount of patients at one time, but that’s out the window due to the amount of cases the state’s dealing with. Before this the state was the only one in the country required by law to have a specific nurse to patient ratio, one nurse to two patients in ICU and one for four in emergency rooms. The Gov. and state Department of Public Health are handing out temporary waivers though due to a lack of staffing at some hospitals. It happened in the spring too for 90 says, the latest for 60 days at at least 250 of the state’s 400 hospitals.

Those who have to have debris taken from their homes after the summer’s wildfires, there’s a free program. The state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program is free, but property owners need to opt in to it and fill out some paperwork to allow workers onto their property. The program put on by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, CalRecycle, and local governments.  Those with fire damage or destruction or if they have trees that could fall onto public roads or buildings from last summer’s fires have until the beginning of February to sign up for the free program. It includes removal of hazardous household materials and contaminated debris.

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