By JORGE MERCADO & MITCHELL WHITE
For the third consecutive day, coronavirus cases continue to rise in Santa Barbara County, as the county Health Department announced 162 new COVID-19 cases Thursday.
This also marks the second consecutive day that more than 100 new cases were reported.
The majority of the new cases again came from Santa Maria, which reported 93 new cases on Thursday. The city has the most cases and deaths in the county with 2,420 and 18, respectively.
Santa Maria is also the only city in the county with more than 100 active cases.
Lompoc had 16 new cases Thursday, bringing its total to 370. Santa Barbara announced 11 to bring its total to 655.
Ten new cases were announced in the unincorporated areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and the city of Guadalupe, while nine new cases were reported in Orcutt.
The communities of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria reported five new cases, while the unincorporated valley between Goleta Valley and Gaviota areas reported three new cases. Isla Vista and Santa Ynez each announced two new cases Thursday.
The federal prison complex in Lompoc announced no new cases and, according to the county’s website, has five active cases of its total 1,010 positive cases.
There are now 361 active cases in the county with 86 recovering in the hospital and 27 recovering in the intensive care unit.
Broken down by age demographics, the range with the most cases came from residents between 30 and 49 with 74 new cases, bringing the total to 2,195 — the most in the county for any age range.
There were also 47 new cases in the 18-29 age range, bringing the total to 1,418.
The 0-17 age range had 13 new cases, 50-69 had 20 and those in the 70-plus group had eight new cases.
Over the past two days, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department announced that a deputy, a custody deputy and civilian staff member have tested positive for COVID-19, while also reporting three custody staff have been cleared to return to work.
The deputy who tested positive for coronavirus became ill while on vacation, was tested and did not return to work. The exposure “does not appear” to be work related, said Raquel Zick, sheriff’s spokeswoman.
The custody deputy, who serves in an administrative role, was tested July 16 as part of the department’s sweeping tests of custody staff, and did not have contact with inmates and did not return to work after being tested, Ms. Zick said.
The civilian staff member was tested Tuesday and worked until the following morning “in a role that does not require direct inmate contact,” Ms. Zick said.
The staff member has been off since Wednesday and received the results from the COVID-19 test on Thursday.
The staff that have been cleared to return to work include two custody deputies and one civilian staff.
As of Thursday, 36 Sheriff’s Office employees have tested positive for COVID-19, with 25 having returned to work. Five custody deputies, four staff members and two deputies continue to recover at home. A total of 11 inmates have tested positive at the Main Jail, with seven being treated, one who has recovered and three who have been released from custody.
Also on Thursday, Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s public health officer, issued a new order aligning with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s previous order regarding face coverings.
The new order, which is effective until at least Aug. 20, mandates individuals in the county wear face coverings when “in high-risk situations that may contribute to the spread of COVID-19.”
According to the order, people must wear a face covering when entering a business, when using public transportation or ride-sharing applications, and all businesses must mandate their employees to wear a face covering at the job site.
Masks with one-way valves are not permitted, as they allow respiratory droplets to easily escape which places others at risk. The order does not apply to persons under 2 years old.