Officials Plead With Public to Help Lower COVID-19 Cases
By edhat staff
Santa Barbara County officials pleaded with the public to stop gathering and to wear a face-covering in order to reduce COVID-19 cases.
The county has been on the state's monitoring list for 32 consecutive days due to a high number of hospitalizations and cases while failing to meet the thresholds.
Supervisor Gregg Hart stated every area of the county is experiencing an increase in cases and the biggest risks are workplaces and gatherings.
"We need to do more and quickly to stop the virus," said Hart.
Cottage Health's Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons stated COVID-19 is regaining momentum with record-high case counts, more hospital admittance, and deaths.
She stated that more is known about the virus since March when the outbreak began as physicians now understand how to diagnose and prevent the disease while using several treatment options. We also know how our immune systems responds to this virus and some people fail or lose neutralizing antibodies making herd immunity very difficult to achieve, she said.
Dr. Fitzgibbons urged the community to physically distance, consistently wear masks, and frequently wash hands. "If our whole community acts together, we can do this simply," she said.
Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso agreed with the officials stating, "if you cannot maintain six feet of distance, you shouldn't be there. Period."
PHD is reporting 137 new cases bringing the county's total to 4,759. Of those, 394 cases are active with 81 people hospitalized including 27 in the intensive care unit (icu).
The county's case rate is ten times higher than the state's acceptable threshold and the testing positivity is 1.6% over the allowed percentage.
Contact investigators determined 42% of positive cases were from community spread while 50% were due to person to person contact.
When asked why PHD data does not match the state's Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed the state has yet to share their coding and methodology so the numbers can be in sync. She said its mostly due to a lag time in reporting.
PHD reported there have been 352 complaints from members of the public related to food facilities not following COVID-19 prevention protocol.
Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed all of the businesses received a phone call and most received a site visit. From these there were four notices of violations, one permit notice, and one hearing. "All resulted well," she said.
A state enforcement team linked to Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) licenses have also visited local businesses for employees not wearing masks or not wearing them properly, not enforcing physical distancing requirements, and for allowing indoor privileges while all operations must take place outdoor.
Dr. Do-Reynoso said she anticipates further modifications from the Governor in the future.
Schools Cannot Reopen
Earlier today, Governor Newsom announced Central Coast schools will not be allowed to reopen and must offer 100% virtual learning since the tri-counties are on the state monitoring list.
Assistant Superintendent of the Santa Barbara County Education Office Ellen Barger stated they are expecting more specific guidelines from the state on Monday but each district has been working on distance learning processes.
Barger confirmed that distance learning will look much different in the fall as districts were in "crisis mode" during the spring.
"We all need to come together and think about how we can support our children, teens, schools, and each other as we work hard to beat our numbers, to get our numbers back where they need to be so we can eventually open our schools," said Barger.
More details on the current COVID-19 cases within Santa Barbara County can be found here.