The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has announced four more positive cases of COVID-19, with three residing in the South County and one in North County.
There are now six cases in the South County and seven in the North County.
According to a news release, one of the South County cases is a person in their 20s, while the other two southern cases are in their 40s. The person in the North County is in their 60s.
The PHD is actively investigating how each got the virus and identifying persons that they may have had close contact with.
“We are urging our community to stay home when they are sick and practice consistent social distancing practices,” shared Van Do-Reynoso, Public Health Director for Santa Barbara County. “It is critical that we all take the necessary steps to slow the spread of this illness in our community.”
According to Dr. Henning Ansorg on Friday, the initial nine cases in Santa Barbara County did not cause hospitalization, with all recovering under quarantine at home.
According to the PHD, 214 tests have been conducted to date, with 66 returning negative and 139 still pending results.
Statewide, California has 1,224 confirmed cases, with 19 deaths. The overall number of cases increased by 220 in 24 hours.
Nearly 10% of the nationwide deaths have occurred in California, with national numbers rising to 15,219 overall cases and 201 deaths. Every state, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have all reported positive cases.
State-at-home enforcement on the way
The Santa Barbara County Law Enforcement Chiefs (CLEC) Association announced that unless you are a person working in the 16 critical infrastructure sectors that may continue to work, that they were united in beginning to enforce the important stay-at-home order “that has been issued for the safety and well-being of those who live and work in the communities we serve.”
The release went on to indicate that there is empathy for those suffering loss at this time.
“We have great concern and empathy for those who are experiencing frustration, financial loss, heightened anxiety and fear during these troubling times. Although this Public Health Order can be enforced through citations or arrests if violated we are encouraging our personnel to educate the public and exercise discretion in obtaining voluntary compliance,” the release said.
“Our enforcement posture with members of our communities will be one of collaboration and the encouragement of voluntary compliance whenever possible. Make no mistake, however, in understanding that we will be steadfast and diligent in seeking out and bringing to justice criminal offenders who attempt to take advantage of this situation.”
Local veterinarian speaks out
Many families are taking to the outdoors with their dogs in tow, escaping the confines of home for a bit of sunshine.
While officials have been clear that pets are not known to pass along coronavirus, there is still hesitation by many in approaching a pet.
Dr. Kelly Doria of All Paws House Calls says that the worry is for nothing.
“To all the pet owners and lovers out there, please know that we are as concerned for your health as we are for your furry or feathered companions. UC Davis Vet Med and the AVMA both assure us that COVID-19 is not communicable to pets from humans, or vice versa,” Dr. Doria said.
She continued that the veterinary community is on full alert during the coronavirus crisis.
“Your veterinary community is an essential part of keeping our society healthy; as such many clinics, house call and ambulatory practices are still open with few modifications. Please let us know if we can help in any way,” Dr. Doria said. “We take your pets’ health and your health very seriously and we are here to help get everyone through this.”
A helping hand
A day after PHD officials indicated that healthcare facilities were running critically low on supplies, Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced on Friday that it will donate 480,000 N95 masks and 470,000 surgical masks to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
The materials will be distributed to California hospitals and first responders.
PG&E also committed to donating $1 million to nonprofits that support individuals and families that are facing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
A thriving business adjusts
The Farmacy, located on Mission Street in Santa Barbara, has seen extraordinary business growth during the coronavirus outbreak, with locals turning to the pot dispensary for a multitude of reasons.
On Saturday, The Farmacy announced that it would be changing how it operates, with all patrons either needing to make to-go orders or utilize its delivery service.
In addition, The Farmacy will also be offering seniors an extra 20% off delivery orders.
Same-day deliveries must be made before 11 a.m., while the store will maintain its normal hours of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. It will also offer deliveries to Carpinteria on Monday and Wednesday evenings, as well as Friday mornings.
A message to the community
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Care Centers released new protocols for patients on Saturday:
- Call ahead if you do not feel well so we can help you decide how best to provide your care. Per CDC guidelines, if you are feeling ill, please do not come to the clinic without calling first.
- Please keep healthy friends and family members home rather than joining you for your appointment. Children should have only one adult with them. Adults with caregivers should only bring one adult with them.
- As the local situation changes, you may be offered a visit by telephone or video instead of visiting the clinic to keep you healthy.
“To support the mandate for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are in the process of developing ways to care for patients remotely by phone or teleconferencing (through your mobile phone or computer). If you are interested in this type of visit, please call your health center, as we need to sign you up for MyChart (our electronic portal) beforehand. We are also accepting new patients who become ill and need assistance,” the release said.
Emergency status for Solvang
The Solvang City Council held an emergency meeting on Friday, declaring a COVID-19 Public Health and Safety and Economic Cessation Emergency, “in an effort to access all available emergency funding and reimbursement to the region so dependent on tourism.”
The council also established a $250,000 emergency loan assistance program for small businesses that are suffering due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“The City is hearing from business owners of their need for immediate support in the face of the economic cessation that has hit the community. This micro-loan program will give businesses the breathing room to then work with other programs, such as SBA and other recovery programs being developed at this time,” said Solvang mayor Ryan Toussaint.
Still no deal on stimulus package
The more than $1 trillion stimulus package that the U.S. Senate continues to hammer away at did not have a resolution on Saturday.
President Trump was confident that a deal was close, particularly ahead of the stock market opening on Monday, a week after the worst week on Wall Street since 2008. Analysts have also predicted that next week’s unemployment claims will likely set a record.
One continued stalling point has been the Senate Republicans attempt to make direct payments to most middle-income taxpayers, with checks likely $1,200 per person, $2,400 per couple and $500 per child. According to the current plan, low-wage workers would only receive $600.
Pence, wife test negative
A day after a White House staffer that worked with Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, tested positive for COVID-19, the couple tested negative for the virus.
President Trump already tested negative for the virus last week.
New wards for the sick?
With growing concern that the rapid spread will overrun hospitals and healthcare workers in California, Washington and New York, some public health officials are beginning to look at convention centers, dorms and hotels as potential solutions.
In New York alone, this plan could help provide wards for up to 10,000 people.
How that applies to California has yet to be determined, with Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area the heaviest affected in the state.
Governors and health officials have also asked President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to push companies that can produce items such as scrubs, gloves, masks and goggles, which are in massive shortage. On Saturday, he would not entertain that request.
“We have so many companies making so many products,” President Trump said. “We have the act to use in case we need it.”
Anastasia Tharp contributed to this report.