SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) – Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases attributed to the omicron variant, health officials in Sonoma County urged employers to require vaccine boosters for employees, as part of new workplace recommendations.

“COVID-19 cases are increasing again in Sonoma County, but we can keep both our community and our economy healthy if employers require workers to get a booster shot as soon as they are eligible for one,” county health officer Dr. Sundari Mase said.

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Under new guidelines posted Tuesday, workers who have yet to receive their boosters or are unvaccinated are urged to test at least twice weekly.

Mase also urged employers to require the use of FDA-cleared surgical masks or respirators in indoor settings, saying cloth masks are not as effective in the face of the new variant.

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“Given how contagious the omicron variant is proving to be, cloth masks are just not as effective in stopping the spread of the virus,” said Mase. “We recommend that everyone upgrade to a surgical mask or something equivalent.”

The new recommendations come as Sonoma County required employees at schools, along with first responders and medical workers to receive boosters or undergo twice-weekly COVID-19 testing. Workers in the above sectors face a deadline of February 1 to comply with the new requirement.

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As of Tuesday, the county reports 76.7% of eligible residents age 5 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Meanwhile, about 146,000 have received booster doses.