Public Officials Hope to Reopen More Businesses Next Week
By edhat staff
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) hopes the state will allow the county to move into the next tier prompting more businesses to reopen next week.
During Friday's press conference, officials affirmed the state will make an announcement on Tuesday whether the county's COVID-19 case rate and testing positivity met the criteria to move into the lower "red tier." This would allow all schools to reopen without waivers within 14 days and the majority of businesses to immediately reopen indoors with modifications.
PHD Director Van Do-Reynoso said the numbers "look promising," but they won't know for sure until Monday when the state performs their calculations.
Young People are Biggest Spreaders
Although the county is currently in a downward trend, there's still a concern about younger populations carrying and spreading the virus. Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg stated the percentage of young adults infected by COVID-19 has increased steadily.
"In August, the test positivity rate for twenty-year-olds was the highest ever at 23% followed by people in their thirties with 17%. Of all positive tests performed in California in August, 40% were people in their twenties and thirties," said Dr. Ansorg.
While younger people generally have better odds at an uncomplicated recovery, Dr. Ansorg said this is not guaranteed. "A recent study showed that young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 experience substantial rates of adverse outcomes when hospitalized, 21% of all hospitalized had to require intensive unit care, 10% needed to be on the ventilator and 2.7% died in this young age group," he said.
On top of this, younger people appear to be the biggest spreaders of the virus putting themselves and others at risk. An observation in the southeast of the U.S. showed an increase in test positivity rate in people in their 20's was later followed by an increase in people in their 40's and 50's about 9 days later to then followed by people older than 60's after that, said Dr. Ansorg.
Recent studies have confirmed that respiratory droplets can become aerosolized and spread even further than six-feet and linger in the air while still being contagious. Face masks are the biggest protectors, he said.
School Waiver Update
There have been thirty elementary school waiver applications to reopen within Santa Barbara County.
Twenty-one schools have been approved by the state to reopen, four are working with PHD to complete their application, and three new applications were received on Friday. Not a single waiver has been denied thus far.
Once the county reaches the red tier, waivers will not be required after 14 days and all schools can potentially reopen as soon as October 13 if their school officials allow.
On Friday, PHD reported 35 new COVID-19 cases bringing the total to 9,037. Of those, 155 cases are still active/infectious.
There have been 113 COVID-19 related deaths.
Currently, there are 20 people hospitalized with 5 in the intensive care unit (ICU).
More data can be found here: https://publichealthsbc.org