The fall and winter holiday season has started amidst a doubling of COVID-19 case numbers across Santa Barbara County.
This alarming trend is also reflected nationally and globally. As healthcare workers on the front lines and as educators eager to see students back in the classroom, we are making a sincere plea to all residents to follow public health recommendations and help keep our community safe.
Like many of you, we are sad about the impact this pandemic will have on our traditional holiday gatherings with family and friends. We understand how difficult it is, after an already tough nine months, to request that everyone forgo travel and avoid celebrations with people who do not live in their immediate household.
We do know that asking all out-of-town visitors and any residents who traveled out-of-state to quarantine for two weeks upon their return is inconvenient, but it’s essential to our community health.
We also know that it might be tempting to use a negative test result to rationalize travel or attend a gathering, but this approach is not recommended since the incubation period for COVID-19 lasts for up to 14 days. It is very possible to test negative for COVID-19, experience no symptoms, still harbor the virus and be able to transmit it to a loved one.
A serious, renewed commitment to mask-wearing and social distancing needs to occur immediately in order to stop the current surge and bend the curve again. Something has to change or our schools may not be able to open, businesses will continue to suffer and we risk the health of our most vulnerable community members.
While our hospital systems prepared well for large outbreaks earlier this year, we do not want to see a tidal wave of sick patients overwhelm our health systems due to a surge that we could have prevented. These exact scenarios are playing out across the country, but it doesn’t have to be that way here.
Through the fires and mudflows, we saw the great capacity of our community to pull together, help one another and remain resilient in the face of challenges that at times seemed insurmountable. Unlike those events which happened without warning, this pandemic is not a riddle still unsolved. We now know how to decrease the spread of this virus, and a determined effort by all of us will make a difference.
We are asking you personally to join us in making these hard choices, and hopefully preserving the good health of our friends, family and loved ones to enjoy many more holiday seasons together.
Masked and Mighty Coalition members
(Santa Barbara County, Cottage Health, Sansum Clinic, CenCal Health, Central Coast Medical Association, Lompoc Valley Medical Center, Lompoc Valley Pediatric Care, Marian Regional Medical Center, Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara County Promotores Network, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, Santa Barbara County Education Office, school districts throughout the county, UCSB and Westmont College.)