New health officer order issued for wineries, breweries and bars
As Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 metrics continue to decline, the county is expected to learn on Tuesday that it has reached the red tier.
Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, public health director, said on Friday that the county’s adjusted case rate was 9.7 per 100,000, and its testing positivity rate was 3.6%. As long as those numbers are maintained, the state will announce that the county will be placed in the less-restrictive tier.
That would allow, among other things, the resumption of indoor dining, an expansion of customer capacity inside retail outlets, and the reopenings of indoor movie theaters, indoor museum exhibits, indoor gyms and secondary schools with limits on capacity.
Dr. Henning Ansorg, health officer for the county, said that while there could be more opportunities for businesses and entertainment venues to reopen, it would also present a challenge not to fall back into another surge.
The county’s winter surge has since passed, as health officials continue to call for adherence to protocols such as face coverings, social distancing and limiting gatherings.
“Please everyone, let us stay with the program so that Santa Barbara County as a whole can progress to even less virus transmission and approach more normalcy,” Dr. Ansorg said.
On Friday, the county Public Health Department issued a new health officer order for wineries, tasting rooms, breweries and distilleries. Under the new order, wineries and tasting rooms are no longer required to serve meals, but must continue to operate outdoors and service can only be provided for up to 90 minutes and ends at 8 p.m. Bars, pubs and brewpubs can operate as long as they serve meals, but must be outdoors and follow the restaurant guidance.
“I am hopeful that we are on the right track to finally tackle this pandemic successfully for Santa Barbara County and the country as a whole,” Dr. Ansorg said.
Starting Monday, the county will expand its vaccine eligibility for individuals between 16 and 64 who are deemed to be at very high risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 as a direct result of several severe health conditions. Information about the applicable co-morbidities can be found on the California Department of Public Health fact sheet, at https://tinyurl.com/ywnk44tu. When individuals in this category present at a vaccination clinic site, they will not need a letter from their doctor, and will not need to show evidence of their co-morbid condition. They will need to sign an attestation form attesting to the fact that they have an applicable co-morbidity.
While there will be more people eligible to receive the vaccine, officials continue to stress that supply is limited and that more doses will be available in the coming weeks. About 10% of county residents over 18 are fully vaccinated, with about 15% having received at least one dose.
“The next two to three weeks will be challenging,” Dr. Ansorg said. “One of the reasons is the vaccine supply available to us will likely not increase, however, more individuals will become eligible as of Monday …
“By April, we should see a dramatic increase in available vaccines and hopefully by May everybody who wants a vaccine will be able to get it.”
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 54 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, as well as two additional deaths associated with the virus.
The two deaths reported Friday were individuals over the age of 70 who had underlying medical conditions. The deaths were not associated with a congregate care site. The individuals resided in the city of Lompoc and the city of Santa Maria. The county has now reported a total of 428 deaths associated with COVID-19.
Of the new cases reported Friday, 26 were in the city of Santa Maria. The North County city now has a total of 10,987 cases, including 82 that remain active.
No more than four new cases were reported in any other region in the county, and a total of 255 cases remain active. A total of 43 people are recovering at local hospitals, including 15 in the Intensive Care Unit. The county’s ICU availability was at 31.6% as of Friday.
Cottage Health issued an update Friday and announced that it is caring for a total of 277 patients across all campuses. At Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, 178 acute care patients are being treated, including seven on ventilators. Some 17 of those patients are in isolation with COVID-19 symptoms, and 17 are confirmed COVID-19 positive. Of the 17 in isolation, six are in critical care. The county’s adult critical care available capacity was 35.6% as of Friday.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department announced Friday that the Main Jail has cleared all active COVID-19 cases, while one additional custody deputy has been found to be COVID-19 positive.
The total number of Sheriff’s employees who have tested positive for the virus was 116 as of Friday, with 113 having recovered and returned to work. All the cases at the Main Jail have been cleared and there are no COVID-19 positive inmates being monitored, said Raquel Zick, sheriff’s spokeswoman.
A total of 213 inmates have contracted the virus, including 39 who were positive upon intake and 174 who contracted the virus in the facility. A total of 173 have recovered, 39 were released from custody and one inmate died due to virus complications, authorities said.