County officials discourage holiday travel
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 76 new cases on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 10,415, with 10,068 recovered cases, 131 deaths and 216 still active.
Santa Maria reported the highest number of cases on Friday at 16, and Santa Barbara reported 10 new cases.
The unincorporated area of the Goleta Valley and Gaviota reported nine new positive COVID-19 cases; Lompoc reported eight with none from the federal prison; and the south county unincorporated area including Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria reported seven new cases.
Both Isla Vista and Orcutt each reported five new COVID-19 cases.
The Santa Ynez Valley reported four new cases; Goleta reported two; and the unincorporated areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and city of Guadalupe reported one.
As of Friday, Cottage Health is caring for a total of 292 patients across all campuses, 233 of whom are acute care patients.
There are still 155 acute care beds available.
In the COVID-19 update press conference from the county Public Health Department on Friday, Gregg Hart, the chair of the county board of supervisors, advised against traveling in light of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s travel advisory urging visitors entering their states or returning from home out of state to self-quarantine.
Gov. Newsom was joined by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, in issuing the advisories.
“California just surpassed a sobering threshold – one million COVID-19 cases – with no signs of the virus slowing down,” Gov. Newsom said in a statement. “Increased cases are adding pressure on our hospital systems and threatening the lives of seniors, essential workers and vulnerable Californians.
“Travel increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, and we must all collectively increase our efforts at this time to keep the virus at bay and save lives.”
Mr. Hart added that 11 counties in the state have moved backwards into more restrictive tiers, so he reminded residents to avoid gatherings of all kinds.
“I am worried,” said Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, the county Public Health director. “We’re experiencing a steady increase in cases on a daily basis… We may soon follow them back to the restrictive tier.”
She said the county Public Health Department does not recommend traveling or gathering over the Thanksgiving holiday.
She provided tips such as evaluating risk for contracting the virus, considering a virtual holiday meal and assessing any risks associated with travel.
On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors will learn whether the county receives a “purple mark,” and Dr. Do-Reynoso is encouraging residents to double down and continue safety precautions.
Finally, Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s public health officer, shared that the COVID-19 vaccine development is making “significant” progress.
“We are looking forward to possibly as soon as late December or early January,” he said.
When the vaccine is ready for distribution, Dr. Ansorg said health care providers who care for the vulnerable populations, first responders and the elderly in nursing homes will be prioritized to receive a vaccine.