35 new COVID-19 cases reported Friday
A hint of optimism was on display during the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department’s COVID-19 press conference on Friday.
The reason being is that, after a successful week of keeping case counts low, all signs point toward the county moving into the less-restrictive red tier when the state releases it’s newest report card for each county on Tuesday.
The guidelines for reaching the red tier include having 7.0 or fewer cases per 100,000 and a testing positive rate under an 8%.
“The Board of Supervisors has scheduled a special meeting that day (Tuesday) and the Public Health Department is preparing, in advance, to issue a local health order that allows the reopening of many businesses immediately,” 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart said.
Some of the positives of moving into the red tier include: retail stores being able to expand to 50% capacity; personal care services can open indoor with modifications; museums, zoos and aquariums can open indoors with modification at max 25% capacity; places of worship can open indoors with modification at max 25% capacity; movie theaters can open indoors with modification, max 25% capacity; gyms and fitness centers can open indoors, with modification at max 10% capacity; restaurants can open indoors, with modification at max 25% capacity.
“When we get to the red tier, we will need to be even more diligent in wearing our masks, maintaining our distance and limiting our gatherings with others, not in our household,” said Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, the county’s public health director. “Everyone must continue to do this in order to decrease the transmission of disease in our community, so that we can continue to move to less-restrictive tiers.”
After 14 days of being in the red tier, all schools in the county will have the option to reopen for in-person learning, though Dr. Do-Reynoso said that will be up to the individual schools if they want to reopen or not.
Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s public health officer, also noted that while positive rates have gone down overall, spikes in positivity amongst young adults have risen steadily.
“In August, the test positivity rate for 20 year olds was the highest ever at 23%, followed by people in their 30s with 17% of all positive tests… obviously younger and healthier people generally have better odds at hopefully experiencing a less severe disease process, however, this is not guaranteed,” Dr. Ansorg said.
Young adults also drive the transmission in the community, he explained, adding that the county is working closely with UCSB to try to stop the spikes in positive rates in Isla Vista. The small college town has seen an increase of 176 cases since Aug. 3.
“If we want to control this virus, we need more cooperation from the young generation. I’m appealing to our young people. Please influence your peers to take this seriously,” Dr. Ansorg said.
He also added that 30 elementary schools have submitted waiver applications. So far, 21 are going through the process, with two having been sent seeking final approval.
“To date, there has not been a single waiver denied in our county,” he said.
The county reported a total of 35 cases on Friday, the most announced in a single day this week, bringing the county’s total to 9,037.
Of the total cases, 155 are considered to be active while 20 people are recovering in the hospital and five are in the Intensive Care Unit.
Santa Maria reported the most cases Friday with 12, bringing the city’s total to 3,859, 54 of which are considered active.
Lompoc announced 10 new cases and now has a total of 820 cases, 19 of which are active.
Orcutt reported four new cases, Isla Vista reported three and the communities of Montecito and the city of Carpinteria announced two.
Goleta and Santa Barbara each reported just one case. Santa Barbara has a total of 1,212 cases, 15 of which are active. Goleta has 254 total cases, five of them active.
As of Friday, the county has administered 148,217 total tests with 138,590 returning negative, 9,037 positive and 375 inconclusive.
In total, 8,769 have recovered from the novel coronavirus in the county.