Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches title=
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches
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Leadbetter beach at 12:30 p.m. Friday, April 24 (Photo: Patti Gutshall/edhat)
Update by edhat staff
July 2, 2020

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) has reversed course and announced the beaches will close through the July 4th weekend.

Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg issued a health officer order requiring all beaches to be closed to the public during the July 4th weekend.  This order is effective from 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 3, 2020 and continuing until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 5, 2020.

PHD stated this order is being issued in response to Santa Barbra County not meeting the threshold criteria for Elevated Disease Transmission, Increasing Hospitalization, and Limited Hospital Capacity for the past 16 days as noted in the County Monitoring Metrics. However, just days earlier when the county was still not meeting the threshold criteria, PHD announced beaches will remain open. There was pushback from numerous residents and suggestions by Governor Gavin Newsom for local officials to close beaches.

“The temporary closure of all beaches is necessary due to the anticipated high volume of people at our beaches during the July 4th weekend, which will impede the practice of safe and necessary social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Santa Barba County,” said Dr. Henning Ansorg. “The landscape for this upcoming weekend has changed in the past few days as more and more counties have decided to close their beaches. This raised significant concern for the impacts to our local community.”

During Thursday's press conference, PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso stated they were hopeful the beaches could remain open over the holiday weekend, however, an increase in local cases, being on the state's monitoring list, and the closure of other southern California beaches led to the reversal of their decision.

The threat of thousands of people from out of the area funneling to Santa Barbara County caused great concern and the decision to pivot was in the community's best interest, Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed.

Public beaches are closed with the exception that the ocean is open for water sports (e.g. surfing, swimming, paddle-boarding, kayaking, boating) and the beaches may be used for running, walking, cycling, or other forms of active physical activity. Passive activities like sunbathing, sitting, and picnicking are prohibited, as are umbrellas, tents, shade structures, beach chairs, coolers, and barbecues. 

Dr. Do-Reynoso also confirmed PHD has been working with local law enforcement and Parks and Recreation to assist with enforcing this closure. 

The full health officer order can be found here.

More information about the COVID-19 response locally, visit or call the County Call Center at 1(833) 688 – 5551.

By edhat staff
June 30, 2020

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) announced the beaches will remain open through the July 4th weekend.

"Beachgoers from separate households must maintain at least six feet of physical distance from one another and wash or sanitize their hands thoroughly and often. Strict social distancing will be enforced," according to PHD.

This announcement comes one day after Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg ordered all breweries and bars who do not serve a sit-down meal to close. Governor Newsom made the recommendation as Santa Barbara County failed to meet the state's attestation requirements.

Ventura and Los Angeles Counties have reportedly closed their beaches for the holiday weekend to prevent crowding that results in the spread of COVID-19. Many locals fear with Santa Barbara beaches open, people from out of town will travel to the area to enjoy the beach for the long weekend.

On Monday Santa Barbara County reported its 29th COVID-19 related death and 184 new cases from Saturday through Monday. Of the total 2,896 cases, 604 are still active.

Additionally, PHD stated there will not be a COVID-19 daily case report for Tuesday as they are transitioning data platforms. The next update will be provided on Wednesday, July 1.

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a-1593629156 Jul 01, 2020 11:45 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

I just saw on Twitter that supposedly the Governor is going to order all LA restaurants closed for the next three weeks. If that is true and he does it, before this weekend, it will be EVEN WORSE here! Close the damn beaches! If you closed the bars then do that too!

a-1593626063 Jul 01, 2020 10:54 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Myrtle Beach opened for economic reasons and Memorial Day turned it into an East Coast hot spot. The whole County is surging, and visitors returning home are being asked if they’ve been to Myrtle Beach as an obvious risk factor. There’s an article in the Washington Post today that draws some fairly obvious parallels to us. From that WaPo article, a description of the holiday attitude and lack of caution - “People forget about social distancing, people remove their masks, people throw caution to the wind, and they’re out there to enjoy summer on the beach . . . and immediately after our numbers started to rise,” said Barbara Jo Blain-Bellamy, the mayor of the nearby city of Conway. She contracted the coronavirus about four weeks ago.“

happy camper Jul 01, 2020 10:53 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

truly a stupid or short-sighted decision. props to the 3 council members who said close the beach.
Or at least let's restrict it to those who are walking or running, not sitting down in large groups.
it's not unreasonable to expect hordes flocking here, if the weather is good, with Ventura and LA beaches closed. They'll not wear masks, will interact with residents on the beach, at 7-11, and in line at restaurants. Do we want to learn what a mistake this wa 4-5 weeks from now or would it be better to be cautious and protect our citizens? rhetorical question.

SBLetsGetAlong Jul 01, 2020 10:24 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Researchers detected the presence of the virus that caused the disease in samples of waste water in Barcelona, collected in March 12, 2019. These results, sent to a high impact journal and published in the archive medRxiv, suggest the infection was present before knowing about any case of COVID-19 in any part of the world.

SBLetsGetAlong Jul 01, 2020 08:49 PM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

What I am saying is that modern science is guessing. And playing with peoples lives, not just Covid deaths, but suicide, financial death, kids with social disorders. All for guessing. In the 120 years of the modern era and 5 worldwide pandemics they still have no clue. The mask was mandated a couple weeks ago after decades of research. Wow, brilliant people. If they knew a mask was the answer to spreading germs they would have made it mandatory in March. They’re guessing.
What I’m saying is protect yourself. Why would you put your life in the hands of others? You should be mad at yourself for not wearing medical grade masks for the last 50 years every day & sanitize everything before you touch it and bring it home.
I have friends who have died from cancer, my mother has breast cancer. Not one doctor ever advised them to wear a mask.
So protect yourself.

And if you are concerned stay home and don’t go to the mall for Christ sake. Seriously, the mall where you know teenagers hang out and don’t want to wear a mask outside.

As far as data, look at how inconsistent the data is from previous viruses. Look at the current data, SB is doing well against Covid. The businesses are not. The socioeconomic scale is tipping even further by not allowing people to go to work, except the gardeners, handymen, plumbers, contractors, cleaners, liquor stores, dispensaries, fast food.
I’m guessing if you’re truly concerned you fired your gardener, cut your own hair, clean your own house, stay home all day/night and sterilize all your deliveries before you bring them inside. Or does the virus not live in surfaces anymore, I can’t keep up with all the changes to a centuries old issue in the last few weeks.
SB schools will be closed, good luck working full time and leaving your kids home alone. Someone from this “community” will call social services on you for being a bad parent. Good luck paying rent or putting food on your table when there is no day care.
2009 Swine flu measures were in place for over a year. No vaccine was ever developed. Modern science can’t fix everything.
Oh and your child’s education will be put on hold for a year unless you sit with them and home school them. There goes state testing out the window again. They don’t test again next year because they know the results.

But for the less than 1% of SB active cases, most in N County, I guess it’s ok if everyone else suffers.
2009 Swine Flu “ Additionally, CDC estimated that 151,700-575,400 people worldwide died from (H1N1)pdm09 “.
That’s a big range, They’re guessing.
They have no idea how long it was present in communities.
“ From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million),hospitalizations (range: 195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) in the United States (they didn’t have testing like today, do the Cades of death are a lot higher than published) due to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus. Additionally, CDC estimated that 151,700-575,400 people worldwide died from (H1N1)pdm09 virus infection during (Again nowhere near the testing levels we have today so the numbers are a lot higher.)

50 years ago Hong Kong flu killed a larger percentage of Americans, the year went to the moon.

So you understand why people are resistant to the modern science ideas that locking yourself at home and wear a cloth is the answer in the last several weeks when they’ve had decades to research viruses.

When you take the cloth off your face do you sanitize before and immediately after? Do you sanitize the cloth before you put it back on? Do you sanitize the cloth regularly every day? I’m guessing for most the answer is no. Don’t assume a mask is your shield. Be responsible, stay home & order delivery.

PitMix Jul 01, 2020 01:11 PM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

This seems unlikely to be true to me given the infectious nature of this disease. Are you trying to argue that the disease has been present for a year and 1% of the infected people have been dying for that time? Do you have any death certificate data to support this? Everything I've read says death certificate numbers didn't start going up until Dec/Jan.

LooseCannon Jul 01, 2020 02:05 PM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has announced that the LA police will NOT be enforcing the ban on beaches in LA because he was not consulted in advance. (Besides, it's obviously unenforceable.) It's all over the media, so I think your worries about an invasion of people from LA is overblown. There was an excellent Op-ed piece in the New York Times a couple of days about the ways rich, white folks have historically used health scares as an excuse to prevent working-class folks and people of color from having access to public beaches and swimming pools. An important lesson for today.

sacjon Jul 01, 2020 09:52 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Great! Now you know who to blame when we have a surge: "Mayor Cathy Murillo, and council members Eric Friedman and Mike Jordon voted to keep the beaches open." _________----

a-1593620548 Jul 01, 2020 09:22 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

People don't seem to understand STILL how this virus spreads. There is nothing wrong per se going to the beach IF you are distancing, etc. Problem is these potentially infected ppl from rising hotspots also frequent restaurants, stores, etc. and can/will spread it in the community then it spreads exponentially from there. As far as protests when tracers don't ask if someone was at a protest and/or someone doesn't admit to it [which most won't] then we don't get accurate stats on those - so that's why it's not being reported accurately/truthfully how much they spread it too. Close the beaches and keep SB safe.

smary Jul 01, 2020 11:14 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Bad...Total BS You heard no such thing. Coincidence a landslide of "false positive" tests began to occur 2 weeks after reopening, but were OK prior??? There was a similar tweet by by Elon Musk the other day and he was lambasted for spreading this lie.

SBLetsGetAlong Jul 01, 2020 08:50 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

2017 - 53 SB Deaths due to Influenza and pneumonia (SBPHD)
- Most at risk population; seniors and young children as their immune systems are more likely to be compromised.
What has SB implemented since those 53 deaths in 2017? I can’t hear you, what has the PHD done to prevent those future influenza and pneumonia deaths?

To date 29 COVID deaths in SB. (6 in S County)
You can view this as “hey we’re doing better than the flu, or hey why hasn’t anyone in the country done something about flus and viruses that have been around for centuries.

You’re right every death is a shame, but these issues, diseases, viruses, germs, bacteria have been around for a long time. What has worked, good hygiene and stay home if you’re sick or worried about getting sick.
Why is it that a couple weeks ago all of a sudden the mask is the answer? Because science can’t fix it. Yes a mask limits transmission and per CNBC 89% of people wear a mask. Stop fighting over the mask, people are wearing them. If someone is not, ask them politely, why. Or stay away from them. Businesses in other counties offer masks to people entering. Do SB businesses? Not in my experience.
Do SB businesses still sterilize in between customers? Not in my experience.

Reality, if you’re a high risk person you should have been wearing a medical mask long before COVID, even though the doctors never did, and don’t go near the tourists or other people. I know we don’t go hang around them. We wait until they all leave.

SB COUNTY population 445,000
# of Positive test results 2,896 (0.65% of SB)
Actively infected 275 (0.06% of SB)
Hispanic 975
White/non Hispanic 170
99.94% of SB is NOT active with COVID! Yeah!
We need to be asking why is N County & Hispanic more prone to this.

biguglystick Jul 01, 2020 11:33 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Uhh, people are NOT wearing them! I took a drive out on Stearn's Wharf last Sunday just to get out of the house. It was literally crawling with tourists and the vast majority were NOT wearing their masks, or they had them down hanging around their necks. A lot of good that does... we had our windows rolled up and never got out of the car. If it was that crowded and that bad last Sunday, just THINK of how it will be on July 4th. NOPE. This is a bad move. They should have closed the beaches. Poor leadership in our city!!

dw2000 Jul 01, 2020 10:59 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

SBLETSGETALONG - while I agree with parts of what you are saying, you are moving the goal post in your response. For example, I did not say vaccines were a cure. Your original comment asked " what has the PHD done to prevent those future influenza and pneumonia deaths? " and my response was to show that things are done to try to prevent or limit future cases of flu. You compared 56 deaths from flu/pneumonia in 2017 to Covid-19 which I interpreted to be an attempt to downplay Covid-19's mortality risk compared to flu. Looking at a macro view, its obvious that Covid-19 is deadlier than the flu of 2017. How much more? We don't know for certain, but its already killed twice as many people with all the measures in place that were not in place for the flu. So for the sake of common ground, I wholeheartedly agree that good hygiene and staying home when sick are very important.

SBLetsGetAlong Jul 01, 2020 10:17 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Vaccines are not a cure, they are after the fact to help prevent that strain of virus from popping up again. Science does not have a cure. They offer “lock yourself at home, close your businesses and wear a piece of cloth”
Confidence inspiring. after decades of studying viruses.
Reality, herd immunity. Allow those that are not high risk to get infected so they can spread a weakened version of this strain. It’s worked for centuries.
As the the mask being a cure, what type of mask? Scientists still are not sure exactly what type works. The vented masks allow droplets to escape not protecting others. People don’t clean their masks regularly allowing build up of germs that get through the cloth.
People touch stuff then touch their mask then put their mask back on touching their face.
It’s all a guessing game.
What works, good hygiene, stay home when sick and if you’re concerned, stay home.

dw2000 Jul 01, 2020 09:51 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Per the CDC: 2017-2018 Flu: 45 million illnesses / 61,099 deaths --- CDC: Covid-19: 2,581,229 illnesses / 126,739 deaths---"What has SB implemented since those 53 deaths in 2017?" Flu vaccines, Pneumonia vaccines ---"Why is it that a couple weeks ago all of a sudden the mask is the answer?" New disease, learning as time passes --- ""Because science can’t fix it" LOL - yeah, just like polio, smallpox, are running rampant these days, just like millions of cases of flu are prevented each year by vaccine.

RHS Jul 01, 2020 08:48 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

So how many people thought the scene in Jaws when the merchants and politicians of Amity resisted closing its beaches was absurd? Who would risk death just to profit from the tourists? Well, here we are doing the same ignorant thing in Santa Barbara.

Mesarats Jul 01, 2020 08:44 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Santa Barbara City Council vote on closing the beaches for the 4th of July weekend
Some good points made on both sides

YES on closing: Oscar Gutierrez, Alejandra Gutierrez, Kristen Sneddon,
NO on closing: Eric Friedman, Mike Jordan Mayor Cathy Murillo,

Absent: Meagan Harmon,

PitMix Jul 01, 2020 08:27 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Maybe the beach is relatively safe, but in getting there you are going to be around people in the bathrooms, restaurants, gas stations, candy stores, bike rental places, hotel lobbies, and crowded sidewalks. If you don't act sensibly this weekend, please ride out any ensuing illness in your home and don't bother the people at our hospitals. They have enough to do helping the people that tried to follow the rules.

Lorax Jul 01, 2020 08:10 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Collectively the City Council made the right decision to leave beaches open.
It was encouraging to see the data and science honored using reason instead of making some "emotional" decision.
Thank you Mayor Murillo for protecting our Freedom of choice for all and not being manipulated by emotion. Clearly you have done your research, are respecting our Public Health experts and standing side by side with the County on this.
The Health Department that is very conservative with safety, has not recommended closure nor has the County. More people are being tested, so more are showing positive, this is expected. The key numbers are reflected in the ICU numbers which have remained flat, even with numbers of new cases up.
If you don't feel safe, you have a choice not to go out. When we go out anywhere, not just on the 4th of July holiday weekend, on any day it is important to remember to social distance , wear a mask
( not with one way valve ) and wash/sanitize your hands often.
We are going to be in this for a long time at least until there is a vaccine. Stay frustrated or adjust , its your choice.
The Public Health Department is tracing the Covid exposures to people who test positive to someone, friend or family members they know and spend time with them often, not from wide open space and contact less than 10 minutes with the public.

letmego Jul 01, 2020 08:50 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

First off, the % of positive results are going up, that's a problem. Second, the desire to close beaches comes primarily from wanting to keep the people from Los Angeles (still a hotbed!) from coming here. Should we worry about the beaches? Maybe not too much...but they stay here, they eat here, they drink here...that's the issue. (Also, testing until the last week has been flat, not increasing. Everyone says it's been increasing. Numbers show something different.)

sbdude Jul 01, 2020 07:44 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

"Santa Barbara is NOT a mask-free zone. If you want to visit here, you *must* wear a mask. If you don't want to wear a mask, you are not a welcome visitor to our city, please turn around and go home." Are they going to put up signs like this on the 101 at Rincon? Maybe they should!

biguglystick Jul 01, 2020 11:37 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

LOOSE CANNON, in my experience, the locals are being very good about wearing masks, it's the tourists I'm worried about, as I saw on our Sunday drive on Stearn's Wharf, it was a hot mess. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Are people really that stupid? Yes... yes, they are. That is why closing the beaches in SB down would have been the right thing to do, but here we are. Buckle up.

LooseCannon Jul 01, 2020 07:53 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

They did have a sign at the beginning of Cabrillo Blvd, near the bird refuge and East Beach, reminding visitors to maintain physical distance and wear a mask. Maybe it's still there? In my experience, locals and visitors alike are being very conscientious about the various health mandates. Most of the spread is due to people sitting indoors, in prisons, retirement centers, ane group homes. I'm glad that my family and the families of our essential workers, those of us who don't have palatial residences with swimming pools and various other amenities, can enjoy being outdoors, on the beach, this holiday weekend.

LooseCannon Jul 01, 2020 07:21 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE. Excellent decision. I will be taking my daughter to the beach. She's fed up being locked indoors, going on four months now, with appalling virtual classroom instruction via Zoom. We'll be getting vigorous exercise swimming in the ocean, jumping over waves, boosting our immune systems with the sunrays. It's extremely unlikely that we will be infected in an outdoor context as long as we're physically distancing and staying in small groups. If some of you feel better sitting indoors, binge-watching Netflix, with the A/C going full blast (while the postal service is delivering your mail, your Mexican gardener is cutting your lawn, Marborg is hauling your trash, and Uber-eats is delivering your gourmet meals), be my guest. But, please, spare me your self-righteous attitudes!


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