Santa Barbara County and city leaders are urging members of the public not to take part in the annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride that typically closes out the Old Spanish Days celebration.
Officials cite a local health officer order that prohibits gatherings of any size due to the potential elevated transmission of COVID-19.
“The Sunday Cruiser Ride is a Santa Barbara tradition each year during Fiesta but cannot occur this year without endangering the community with the spread of COVID-19,” officials said in a news release. “County and City officials urge those who may have been planning to join this ride to cancel their plans for the general safety of the community. If community members are aware of others planning to join, we urge you to share this message with them.”
The risk of contracting coronavirus “significantly increases” in crowded places and with close contact to others, officials said.
“Large bike rides, although outside, pose a significant risk for the transmission of COVID-19,” Dr. Henning Ansorg, health officer for Santa Barbara County, said in a statement. “Events, such as this, begin and end with gatherings of people in close contact and can result in the transmission of COVID-19 by persons who are not symptomatic, but are in fact infectious. These gatherings pose a very high risk of accelerated and widespread coronavirus infections and therefore they are prohibited per Health Officer Order.”
The community is encouraged to avoid gathering for Fiesta celebrations and activities, instead finding safe ways to participate in virtual music and dance offerings found at www.sbfiesta.org.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department did not release updated statistics on COVID-19 cases on Saturday. The department has a disclaimer on its website, which indicates that recent data published “are likely to be an underestimate of true cases in the county.”
The disclaimer notes the state’s electronic disease reporting system has been experiencing issues processing incoming reports.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department announced Saturday that a civilian staff member has tested positive for COVID-19.
The staff member, who was tested in the community after becoming symptomatic, wore a mask while working and worked near an inmate cleaning crew that wore full personal protective equipment. The staff member became symptomatic after leaving work Wednesday morning and was tested later that day, said Raquel Zick, sheriff’s spokeswoman.
The staff member did not return to work and received the positive result on Friday, Ms. Zick said.
The total number of Sheriff’s Office employees who have tested positive for coronavirus is now 38, with 32 having recovered and returned to work. One custody deputy, three civilian staff members and two deputies continue to recover at home.