The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced 12 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the county total to 1,636.
Of the cases announced Thursday, nine were out of the city of Santa Maria. One additional case was reported in the city of Santa Barbara, one in Orcutt and the other new case was a resident in the unincorporated areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and the city of Guadalupe.
Six cases announced Thursday were residents between the ages of 30 to 49. Five were between 18 and 29 and one new case was a resident over 70 years old, according to the Public Health Department.
Of the total cases, 29 people are recovering in a hospital, with 10 in the Intensive Care Unit, while 87 people are recovering at home. A total of 79 healthcare workers in Santa Barbara County have tested positive for the novel virus.
For the second straight day, no new cases were reported at the federal prison complexes in Lompoc, with the number of active cases remaining at 90, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
Two inmates at the Lompoc Penitentiary have died and one inmate at the Federal Correctional Institute in Lompoc has died, according to the BOP.
To date, the county has conducted 17,619 total tests, with 15,873 coming back negative and 1,636 testing positive. Some 110 tests were inconclusive, according to officials.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso shared a new community guideline regarding graduation ceremonies, including in-person protocols.
“All activity must occur outdoors so long as social distancing of at least six feet is maintained at all times. Graduates may be outside of their vehicles to walk across the stage, receive a diploma or have their photo taken. Schools also may allow a smaller number of graduates to be out of their vehicles at a time. Schools may also assemble a graduation ceremony outside if the total number of attendees, including staff, graduates, guests, and any family members, is less than 100 people, and social distancing is maintained at all times,” Dr. Do-Reynoso said.
Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s public health officer, reminded community members that face coverings are now mandated by the county.
“We have seen an increase in instances and situations where people have not been keeping sufficient physical distance. This had us worried,” Dr. Ansorg said.
He said while science has not given a definitive answer to how helpful face coverings are, “there is evidence that they can help to reduce the spread of the virus by limiting droplets from the wearer.”
Asked if he was worried the county is reopening too quickly as well, Dr. Ansorg said “I would encourage us to not go any faster, until we in two weeks see the results of this dramatic change.
“I would very much urge everybody to really enjoy this but responsibly and then in two weeks let’s reassess. I appreciate the concerns from the neighboring county (Santa Clara County) but I’m still in favor of what we’re doing,” Dr. Ansorg said.