On a day in which the United States became the world leader in confirmed COVID-19 cases — surpassing Italy and China — with 85,840, another six positive tests were returned in Santa Barbara County, making for a total of 32.
Of the six new coronavirus cases, two were in Santa Ynez Valley, two in Santa Maria, one in Lompoc and one in Santa Barbara.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department also revealed that three of the infected are hospitalized, with one in critical condition in the intensive-care unit.
Later Thursday, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital sent out its first release in relation to inpatients.
“As of this morning, there are three patients at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital who have tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, there are 23 inpatients for whom test results are pending. Of the 26 inpatients, nine are in critical condition,” the release said.
The hospital also indicated that they now have four designated isolation units for “care of potential or confirmed COVID-19 patients.”
“Negative pressure and isolation precautions in these units will help conserve supplies and provide the best protection for patients and staff. Cottage is already looking at the next units to convert and the staffing and supplies needed to support additional converted units,” the release said.
To date, eight of the 32 official county cases have fully recovered.
The Lompoc Valley Medical Center also announced its first COVID-19 case on Thursday.
“The patient was not hospitalized and is in self-quarantine. Santa Barbara County Public Health Department staff are monitoring the status of the patient, as it is with all other Santa Barbara County COVID-19 positive patients,” the LVMC said in a release.
Donations roll in
Cottage Health received 11,565 N95 masks, 12,800 procedure masks, 800 lab coats, 500 protective gowns or coveralls and 300 eye shields at the supply donation center at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital.
“Cottage is extremely grateful to the organizations, local businesses and individuals who have donated supplies to help restock protective equipment for healthcare workers providing care at the hospitals,” the organization said in release.
COVID-19, by the numbers
California had its worst day to date when it comes to positive COVID-19 test results, with the overall number climbing by 886, with 16 additional deaths.
In the U.S., there are now 1,209 confirmed deaths, representing about 5% of the worldwide number.
There are now in excess of a half-million across the world, with 529,591 confirmed cases.
In California, there are now 1,230 cases in Los Angeles County, while Santa Clara County has 542. Santa Barbara County is tied for 18th with Kern and Santa Cruz counties.
L.A. County still leads the state in deaths with 21, while Santa Clara has 19.
Forest Service closes developed recreation sites
The USDA Forest Service announced on Thursday that it would be closing its “developed recreation sites” through April 30.
These sites are defined as “recreational use areas designed to facilitate public use.”
The decision was made “in an attempt to avoid groups of people and promote social distancing of staying more than 6 feet apart,” officials said.
New website for county economic recovery
The Workforce Development Board of Santa Barbara County added a new element to the county’s website that will provide access to federal, state and local assistance programs. The site can be found at readysbc.org/economicrecovery.
The website is focused on providing the latest details and resources to aid businesses and individuals.
“I understand how very difficult this economic time is for local businesses and employees. The County of Santa Barbara wants everyone to get the most up to date information about the financial assistance that is available now,” said Gregg Hart, the chair of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. “The County’s Workforce Development Board is working hard to help our local business community and employees access the many resources that can help us financially get through the COVID-19 pandemic.”
DMV to close
The California Department of Motor Vehicles told employees on Thursday that it would be closing its 170-plus field offices starting today.
In recent days, employees had spoken out about growing concerns over being exposed to COVID-19.
A DMV employee in Fullerton was diagnosed with coronavirus on Thursday.
According to multiple reports, employees are being asked to return on April 1, with “virtual transactions” slated to begin April 2.
Grocers Association confident in supply chain
In the shadows of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home mandate, the California Grocers Association wants to assure residents that there are plenty of resources available to keep grocery stores functioning at full capacity.
“In these uncertain times, Californians can be assured that grocery stores will remain open and that food and essential supplies remain plentiful,” said Ronald Fong, president and CEO of the CGA. “The bare shelves you are occasionally seeing do not indicate lack of supply. It is a temporary result of consumers overbuying given the understandable worry right now. The supply and distribution systems are prepared to accommodate this behavior for a day or two during holidays, but not for extended periods of time.
“The men and women at grocery stores and distribution centers throughout the state are working day and night to catch up with demand. Hiring is increasing for both stores and distribution centers to ensure product moves as quickly as possible to store shelves.”
California State Parks take more action
The California State Parks announced that it was taking further action to help limit the spread of COVID-19, temporarily closing vehicle access to 59 state parks and beaches “to avoid dangerous visitation surges and help prevent the spread of coronavirus.”
There are now 98 parks and beaches closed to vehicle access.
According to the CSP, many state parks had record visitation, making “it impossible for the public to implement appropriate social/physical distancing practices.”