It was a frantic finish to a frenetic week for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, unveiling its biggest number of new positive COVID-19 tests, including a rare case for a Santa Barbara resident under 10 years old.
Just a week ago, the total county cases sat at nine — a number that ballooned to 47 on Friday with the announcement of 15 new cases.
While doctors have indicated that the coronavirus is rare in youth, Friday’s list of new cases included one person under the age of 10 in Santa Barbara and another from 10-19 in Goleta. There were also two more cases of those in their 20s, while seven are in their 50s, two in their 40s, one in their 30s and one in their 70s.
Of the 15 new cases, nine reside in Santa Barbara, two in Goleta, two in Santa Maria, one in Montecito/Summerland/Carpinteria and one in unincorporated areas of Goleta Valley and Gaviota.
The two in Goleta are the city’s first confirmed cases.
“The announcement from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (Friday) that there are confirmed cases in Goleta is to be expected as more people are tested for the virus. However, we know the reality that there are cases in our city, including those of young people, can be unsettling,” Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte said. “We urge our community members to remain calm. The best thing they can do to help is to follow the Stay at Home order. “Remember, social distancing doesn’t mean isolation. We encourage you to get creative and stay connected with your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues on the phone or online.”
One of the cases in Santa Maria was confirmed by Vandenberg Air Force Base to be the spouse of a U.S. Air Force Airman.
The spouse is currently under treatment.
“We have our first positive case of COVID-19 at Vandenberg and my leadership team is monitoring the situation while working closely with Santa Barbara County public health to coordinate prevention and response efforts in the local area,” said Col. Anthony Mastalir, 30th Space Wing commander. “The health and safety of our Airmen and their families is our top priority.”
Back on the South Coast, the Santa Barbara County Jail announced that a contract employee, from Ventura County, had tested positive for coronavirus.
The person is a WellPath employee that had been assigned to the jail for inmate medical services, according to a release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
The employee began to experience symptoms on March 21 and immediately went into self-isolation at home.
According to the release, “the employee had interacted with some inmates and staff the day before becoming symptomatic, but had been consistently wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) including goggles, an N95 mask and a gown while at work. The potential risk to others in the facility was evaluated and no additional staff or inmates were found to be symptomatic or suggested for self-isolation protocol.”
The Sheriff’s Office was notified on Thursday of the positive test.
This case comes only a week after the jail dealt with another positive test, the previous one a civilian employee that caused 12 staff members to move into isolation.
The employee has completely recovered, with none of the self-isolated employees developing symptoms as of Friday, with all being cleared to return to work.
To date, no inmates have tested positive for coronavirus, nor have any been put in isolation due to symptoms.
According to the PHD, of the 47 cases, 31 are recovering at home, five are hospitalized (including two in the ICU) and 11 have fully recovered. Per PHD guidelines, the ages of those that are hospitalized could not be revealed.
In addition, the PHD verified to the News-Press that all data presented daily is a reflection of what it has received and verified before 2 p.m., which can cause numbers to vary if other sources unveil additional cases, such as hospitals.
COVID-19, by the numbers
The United States became the first country to eclipse 100,000 positive tests on Friday, now sitting at 104,463. Italy is a distant second with 86,498 and China is third at 81,933.
To date, there have been 1,581 deaths in the U.S., with 450 of those in New York City alone. There were 372 deaths reported on Friday.
In California, nearly 500 new cases were added, while the death toll reached three-digits at 102, or 6.5% of the overall deaths in the U.S.
In terms of deaths, Los Angeles County leads the state with 26, while Santa Clara County has 20. There have been eight in Riverside County, while there are six in a trio of counties: San Mateo, Sacramento and San Diego. The latter actually matches Santa Barbara with 47 overall cases to date.
Los Angeles closes beaches, trails
In an attempt to enforce social distancing and slow the rapid growth of COVID-19 in L.A. County, officials closed all beaches, while the city of Los Angeles shuttered trails, trailheads and park amenities.
The order also includes beach bike paths, bathrooms, promenades and piers.
Trump orders production of ventilators
President Donald Trump used his power under the 1950 Defense Production Act on Friday to order the production of ventilators by General Motors.
The order came a day after he was initially dismissive of the idea as governors and hospitals called the productions of tens of thousands of the devices.
Mr. Trump intimated that GM had been dragging its feet, so he had to use his powers to push it forward.
“Our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course,” he said. “GM was wasting time.”
CARES Act finally in play
Both the U.S. House of Representatives — after a three-hour debate — and the White House approved the historic $2 trillion economic stimulus package officially known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Salud Carbajal, the 24th District representative, was relieved that the bipartisan bill was finally a reality.
“This bill will provide much-needed support and relief to workers, families, small businesses and communities across the country, and it is a significant improvement over the partisan bill initially proposed by Senate Republicans,” Mr. Carbajal said. “On California’s Central Coast, I’ve been speaking with workers, families, small business owners, health professionals and more, and I’ve been relaying our community’s concerns back to Washington as we work to provide aid.
“I’m proud to see some of our community’s requests in this package — including increased unemployment benefits, more relief for small businesses, hospital and health system investments, support for our agriculture industry and student loan assistance — and I will keep fighting for the Central Coast and frontline workers as we continue to address this crisis.”
The relief package will provide a one-time payout of up to $1,200 for most American adults, including an additional $500 for each child.
In addition, $500 billion is earmarked for loans to aid struggling businesses, while an additional $377 billion in loans and grants will help small businesses.
There will be $130 billion to aid hospitals as they prepare to be overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases, while $150 billion will go to local, state and tribal governments facing revenue shortfalls.
For both landlords and tenants, the bill does prevent foreclosures and evictions for any property that is backed by a federal government mortgage.
In addition, all federal student loan payments are paused for six months, with interest waived during that time.
State will also receive millions to help plan for the November election by offering mail or early voting.
Food assistance programs will receive $25 billion.
Many freelancers and gig workers were concerned that the package wouldn’t address them, but the CARES Act expands who qualifies for unemployment assistance to include them, as well as furloughed employees.
Over the past week, nearly 3.3 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits, a number expected to continue to grow. The unemployment benefits will temporarily include a $600 increase in jobless benefits for four months on top of what states provide as base compensation. Benefits were also extended by 13 weeks, with 26 weeks normally the barometer.