Current conditions qualify for red tier, though case rates must continue for another week
Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 conditions currently qualify for the red tier, the second lowest of the state’s four-tier color-coded system.
However, these conditions must remain in the county for another week before the county changes from the lowest purple tier, signifying “widespread” COVID-19 transmission, to the red tier signifying “substantial” transmission.
During an update at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso reported that much of the county is experiencing a downward trend in new COVID-19 cases. Though localities like Santa Maria and Lompoc have started to experience this decrease in new cases, there is a slight uptick in areas like Goleta, Isla Vista, and Santa Ynez, Dr. Do-Reynoso said.
From the week of Sept. 6 to Sept. 12, Santa Barbara County’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 people was 6.5, and its positivity rate 4.3%. Under the state’s color-coded, four-tier system, the former metric ranks under the red “substantial” tier and the latter under the second-best orange tier, signifying “moderate” transmission.
Despite this, a county’s tier ranking is based on whichever metric is most severe, and a county can only change tiers once it has been in a less restrictive tier’s conditions for a minimum of two weeks.
According to Dr. Do-Reynoso, if these conditions hold or improve, Santa Barbara would enter the red tier on Sept. 29. Santa Barbara County would have to be assigned to the red tier for 14 days before schools can reopen, making Oct. 13 the earliest possible date for this to happen.
As of Monday, Santa Barbara County has had a total of 8,930 cases with 8,669 of them recovered. The 141 active cases are still infectious, and 23 of them are currently hospitalized with five in the Intensive Care Unit.
The county Public Health Department announced 25 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. One additional COVID-related death was announced. The victim was over 70, had underlying health conditions and resided in the unincorporated area of Goleta.
With a total 111 COVID-19 deaths, Santa Barbara County’s death rate is about 1.2%.
According to a press release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, all but one of the inmates in the Santa Barbara County Jail who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered. The remaining COVID-19 positive inmate is being medically isolated in a negative pressure cell.
A total of 84 inmates tested positive for COVID-19, including seven who contracted the virus before being booked and 77 who contracted COVID-19 within the facility, authorities said.
Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino participated in Tuesday’s meeting via Zoom video chat due to a member of his staff testing positive for COVID-19. Though he said he tested negative, he was asked to quarantine and not attend the meeting personally.
In other business, the board unanimously voted to deny an appeal filed by the Gaviota Coast Conservancy and Coastal Ranches Conservancy to approve the Caltrans Gaviota Culvert project, a project to replace an existing culvert off of Highway 101 in the Canada del Barro Drainage on the Gaviota Coast.
The board also unanimously voted to receive a report that KPMG conducted evaluating the Santa Barbara County Public Defender’s Office. During the meeting, County Public Defender Tracy Macuga said KPMG’s recommendations will greatly benefit her department and did this by saying a quote by the recently departed United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Quoting the late justice, Ms. Macuga stated, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”
In her own words, Ms. Macuga added, “Today with KPMG’s recommendations and us with you today, we’ve begun another step in the right direction.”
Many of KPMG’s recommendations for the Public Defender’s Office address I.T. infrastructure updates, which Ms. Macuga said will require a great deal of human and financial capital. Therefore, her department is going to start with the improvements they can make right now.
“Our strategy is to prioritize those recommendations that we can begin immediately without additional capital, the low hanging fruit,” she said.
For its last item of the day, the board unanimously voted on a written response to a Santa Barbara County Grand Jury report critical of the board’s public process for its local cannabis ordinance.