The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported an additional 28 positive coronavirus cases to the state Department of Public Health.
The county now has a total of 1,999 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The county has not been providing daily updates during the weekends, but is required to provide data to the state.
The state data does not include demographic information or a breakdown of the areas where the new cases are being reported.
A total of 36 patients are being treated in local hospitals, as well as six additional suspected COVID-19 patients. Seven patients are being treated in the Intensive Care Unit, as well as three other suspected COVID cases.
Of the 36 patients, 28 are being treated at Marian Regional Medical Center, according to the state data.
During Friday’s press conference, county and health officials discussed the recent protests and large gatherings, and how the events may play a role in increased cases moving forward.
“What I’ve observed is that the organizers of the demonstrations have gotten better every time, more careful essentially,” said Board Chair Gregg Hart. “People are feeling tremendous passion and commitment to this cause and want to express that loudly and clearly. But as these things have gone on, the organizers have become more precise about how they organize the events.
“All along I think there has been a tremendous compliance with wearing face coverings, but in the enthusiasm in the initial moments there was a lot of people close together. As time has gone on, there has been a much more conscious effort to request and comply with social distancing requests and I think that’s helped a lot and I think people are trying really hard to both meet the civic commitment and the urgency of the moment and express themselves clearly to their government leaders, and to their fellow residents and be safe, which is exactly what we want everyone to do all the time.”
Dr. Von Do-Reynoso, director of the county Public Health Department, said that with communities across the nation reopening there has been an increase in cases. It was unclear what role the protests have played, she said.
“I’m encouraged at the protests that have been happening here in our county, as Supervisor Hart mentioned they are done in a responsible manner,” Dr. Reynoso said. “The one that I attended last weekend with my daughter, I counted, I made sure I scanned the crowds and everyone as far as the eye could see, albeit we were in close quarters, had face coverings on. And I saw hand sanitizers. I saw really a conscientious effort to maintain social distancing.
“I want to say that we, collectively, as we reopen, will see increases in cases, but I want to say that is attributable to other sectors opening as well.”
Although there has been a recent spike in cases, Health Director Dr. Henning Ansorg said this was attributable to the widespread testing being conducted throughout the county.
“To compare our numbers from June 12 to the number from April 30 is not fair, because at that time we were testing really sick people and now we are testing a lot of healthy people,” he said. “Even though these numbers, they are larger, it does not equal more severe illness or even more illness overall.”
The rate at which the county will continue to reopen will be based on the data that is being provided to the state, Dr. Do-Reynoso said.
“We are reopening because we have met the state’s guidance and we have met the state’s standards,” she said. “How do we know when we need to turn things back? Well, the state has as much vested interest in our county’s state of affairs as we do. The state has a monitoring project where, on a daily basis, they are monitoring our cases, they are monitoring our hospital admissions, they are monitoring our tests positivity, as well as our availability of PPE supplies and ventilators.
“If we fail to meet any of those metrics, we will get a red checkmark and after three days of being in that watched state, the state will initiate conversations with us and active monitoring of our county.”
She said it would not be an overnight decision “when we pull the lever” to re-issue closures.
“It will be continuous conversations with a lot of heads up when we get into a danger zone,” she said.
Dr. Do-Reynoso will brief the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning and provide a full demographic breakdown and information on how the county will proceed.