Marin Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis.

For nearly the third year in a row, January has unleashed a whiplash-inducing burden as we react to the ever-changing COVID-19’s omicron variant. The highly transmissible strain sent case counts soaring, hitting a one-day high of 625 cases in Marin on Jan. 4.

But the daily average has dropped to about 300 cases, county health officials said, and they urged the county’s school community to stay vigilant on testing, masks, vaccinations and quarantines for “a few more weeks” until the omicron surge plateaus and then declines by the end of this month.

“I think we’re seeing early signs that the omicron surge is waning,” Dr. Matt Willis, Marin public health officer, told scores of parents, teachers and students on a webinar hosted by the Marin County Office of Education, according to the Marin Independent Journal. “We’re seeing it plateau this week and next.”

The words of encouragement came as Willis and Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin deputy public health officer, announced changes to the county’s quarantine guidelines to allow for more students and staff to stay in school, even if they have been exposed. The revised quarantine guidelines, available online at, allow an unvaccinated person with a COVID infection within the last 30 days to not quarantine, unless the person is symptomatic and tests positive, the IJ reported.

“They should only test if they’re symptomatic,” Santora said. “If they test positive, then they should isolate.” Similarly, a fully vaccinated, but unboosted, person who was exposed may still attend school if asymptomatic and testing negative. “Everyone needs to continue to wear masks indoors and outdoors,” Santora added, according to the IJ. “We urge you to get boosted as soon as possible. You can assume that all schools are having some COVID activity. You need to know only about the close contacts.”

“We have not seen any significant increase in the past few days,” Willis said. “We need to stay strong for a few more weeks and hopefully there will be a decline by the end of January.”

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