Santa Barbara County Officially Moves Into Lower Tier for Increased Business Reopening
The State of California confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Santa Barbara County has officially moved down into the red-colored "Substantial Tier 2."
Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the state's Health and Human Services Department, confirmed Santa Barbara County was one of the ten counties that met the requirements to move down to the next tier allowing further business reopenings.
The new health officer order posted by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department can be viewed here.
Santa Barbara County joins San Luis Obispo County in the red tier while Ventura is still in the purple "Widespread Tier 1" with more restrictions.
Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) officials anticipate a lower-tier assignment today allowing more businesses to reopen for indoor operations.
During Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, PHD Director Van Do-Reynoso stated the county is expected to move into the red-colored "Substantial Tier 2." California Governor Gavin Newsom will make the formal announcement at noon where PHD will release an updated health officer to be in effect at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday.
Once official, the county will allow the gradual reopening of indoor operations. Gyms and fitness centers can resume indoor operations at 10% capacity; museums, zoos, aquariums, worship centeres, movie theatres, and restaurants at 25% capacity or max 100 people; retail stores and shopping centers at 50% capacity; and nail salons and personal care services such as tattoo parlours and massages can now operate indoors.
Bars, breweries, distilleries, and family entertainment centers are will not be allowed to operate indoors.
The substantial red tier requires 4-7 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population and 5-8% testing positivity rate. Based on PHD's calculations the county has achieved a 4.8 case rate that's adjusted to 4.5 due to testing above the state's requirements and a 3.2% positivity rate.
Van Do-Reynoso stated that for the first time during this rating period there is a unanimous decrease in COVID-19 cases in all trends throughout the county. In the last two weeks, hospitalizations have decreased by 30%, med surge by 19%, and intensive care unit stays by 50%.
Governor Newsom is expected to make the official announcement at noon and will also announce new equity metrics. The goal is to ensure testing positivity rates in every county's most disadvantaged neighborhoods do not significantly lag behind the overall county test positivity rate.
This means for a county to move to less restrictive tiers, they will continue to be evaluated on overall testing and positivity rates. In addition to the lowest quartile test positivity rate it must meet the specified threshold for less restrictive tier. This is expected to be effective on October 6.
Supervisor Das Williams summed up the full report by saying, "let's not blow it." He referenced home parties and gatherings as one of the biggest virus spreaders in the community and urged people to find creative ways to celebrate the upcoming holidays.
Do-Reynoso stated official guidelines will be released this Friday on how to safely celebrate Halloween as PHD fears celebrations could result in a spike of cases.