124 new cases reported to state Dept. of Public Health
Despite stern messaging from Gov. Gavin Newsom reminding the public that the coronavirus pandemic does not let up during the holiday weekend, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will not be providing updates to the county’s COVID-19 cases this weekend in observance of the Fourth of July.
The department tweeted Thursday that it would not be providing updates online, via press releases or press conference. The department’s post came at 11:45 a.m. Thursday, nearly five hours after the governor posted the following: “REMINDER: #COVID19 does not take the summer off. Does not take the weekend off. And will not take 4th of July off.”
The news also follows consecutive days of the county reporting over 100 new cases during this most recent spike.
While the health department is not providing updates to the media or the public, it is still required to provide data to the state Department of Public Health. On Friday, the county reported 124 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 3,385. The state data does not include demographic information or where the new cases are being reported.
A new COVID-19 outbreak was confirmed at the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall on Friday. According to Chief Probation Officer Tanja Heitman, four juveniles and one employee have tested positive for the virus. Names of those who have tested positive were withheld due to medical confidentiality.
The juveniles who have tested positive have been moved to an alternative living unit while testing for employees and youths have been expanded given the situation.
New incoming youths will be quarantined for 14 days, during which they will go through enhanced screening and monitoring before being transferred to a living unit. Currently, the Juvenile Hall is holding 28 youths.
Santa Maria has the most community cases in the county with 1,275. The city also has the most deaths in the county with 15.
In other news, UCSB will be closing campus beaches and adjacent parking lots through Sunday.
The closed locations include Campus Point and Sands Beach as well as parking lots 6, 45 and 45A which all provide access points to the locations, as well as the coastal access meters along Ocean Road near the Manzanita beach access.
The news comes one day after Dr. Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara’s County Health Officer, issued an order requiring all beaches to be closed to the public during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.
Several beach-access parking areas will also be closed this weekend, including the lots near Leadbetter Beach, the lower parking lots at Santa Barbara City College, the city’s Visitors Center on Garden Street, as well as Skaters Point and East Beach.
Finally, in an effort to provide just a little more guidance in a time of uncertainty, Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons, an infectious disease expert at Cottage Health, shared an important message for the holiday weekend.
In a YouTube video, which can be found at Cottage Health’s page, Dr. Fitzgibbons starts with an honest reveal.
“I’m worried,” she said. “I’m worried about the condition of our community right now, I’m worried about the number of cases we are seeing this week but I’m also worried about the number of people that are coming into the hospital with really severe complications of this infection.
“And perhaps most importantly today, I’m worried about how many new cases we’re hearing about this week compared to last week or the week before.”
Dr. Fitzgibbons went on to advise people to try to stay indoors this weekend and try to remain healthy as the impact of these surges will be felt in the coming weeks.
She went on to talk about how well the county did at stopping the rapid spread of the virus in March and April.
“The problem right now is that the number of cases are surging, and the number of cases are not only surging in the community and in the hospital, but the number of cases are surging without what I call a counter force, without a very strong force to help push those cases down over the coming days, weeks or I dread to say it, even months,” Dr. Fitzgibbons said.
“As we think ahead…it’s an incredibly good opportunity for us all… to recommit to not just keeping ourselves healthy and safe but our whole community.”