Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday title=
Outdoor dining on Santa Barbara's State Street (Photo: John Palminteri)
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By edhat staff

Santa Barbara County has reached the state's less restrictive red-tier allowing more businesses to open indoors starting Wednesday.

The announcement was made during Tuesday morning's Board of Supervisors meeting with Public Health Department (PHD) Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso giving an excited "yay!"

The state surpassed the 2 million vaccination threshold in the Healthy Places Index (HPI) Quartile 1, essentially the communities who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 virus. This prompted the restructuring of the "Blueprint for a Safer Economy" metrics, expanding the color-coded tiers allowing more counties to progress. 

The county is currently reporting an adjusted case rate of 7.7 per 100,000 population, a 3.3% testing positivity rate, and a 5.1 health equity rating that allows the county to operate in the red tier. The county will need to stay in this red tier for another two weeks before being eligible for the orange tier.

The changes will take effect at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 17. Here are the biggest updates:

Outdoor and indoor gatherings are limited to persons from no more than three households. Indoor gatherings strongly discouraged but are allowed with face coverings and at least six-feet distance from people from other households.

May operate indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Retail, Grocery & Shopping
Retail stores, shopping malls and swap meets may operate with a maximum of 50% capacity.  Common areas will remain closed.  Food courts are open at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Secondary schools with safety plans in place will be permitted to open for in person education.

Worship services, weddings, funerals & protests
Worship services, cultural ceremonies, weddings and funerals are permitted indoors with modifications at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.  Face coverings are required, even when singing, chanting or protesting.  Receptions, parties or celebrations of life are not permitted.

Fitness Centers, Gyms & Dance Studios
Fitness centers, gyms and dance studios, including those in hotels and lodging rentals, may operate indoors with modifications at 10% capacity.  Rock climbing walls are allowed.  Spa facilities, saunas, steam rooms, indoor pools remain closed.

Museums, Zoos & Aquariums
Museums, zoos and aquariums may open indoors at a 25% capacity.

Movie Theatres
Movie theatres may open indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer

Open with indoor capacity limited to 25%-50%

Cardrooms and Satellite Wagering
Outdoor only with modifications

Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries
Outdoor only with modifications, per Reservation, 90-minute time limit, seating only, limited hours until 8 PM

Allow remote only except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible. 

Personal Care Services
Personal care services may open indoors with modifications.

Hotels and Lodging
Open with modifications, with indoor pools, hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms remaining closed.

Amusement Parks
Starting April 1, may open with modifications: Max 15%, small groups of maximal 10 persons or 3 household groups with no intergroup mixing, indoor capacity max 15% with time restrictions, no indoor dining, weekly worker testing program, in-state visitors only, online ticket purchase only

Outdoor Live Events with assigned Seats and controlled mixing (Sports and live performances)
As of April 1, max 20% includes suites with 25% occupancy per suite and suites no more than 3 households, weekly worker testing program, in-state visitors only, advanced reservations only, primarily in-seat concession (no concourse sales)

Family Entertainment Centers
Mini golf, Kart Racing, Batting Cages: outdoor only with modifications.

For a complete look at what the State allows in the Red Tier, check out the State COVID-19 reopening framework, the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

Santa Barbara County Numbers

Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed hospitalizations, intensive care unit stays, and active cases continued to decrease the first 15 days of March. Total deaths, however, increased by 4%. The county has now sustained 429 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The adjusted case rate decreased by 21% and the numbers prove the winter surge in cases is now over, said Dr. Do-Reynoso. While she acknowledged this is "indeed good news," the community must stay vigilant as new variants of the virus are circling and Spring Break approaches.

Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg confirmed the county is still experiencing widespread community transmission. He urged residents to stay diligent to avoid what's currently happening in Europe where a third wave of COVID-19 is now growing exponentially. 

Regarding vaccine production, Dr. Ansorg stated he feels quite optimistic as the federal government is ramping up COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution. The county's infrastructure is in place to easily double or maybe triple vaccine distribution in the county, he said.

For more information about local public health orders, guidance, and vaccine distribution in Santa Barbara County, please visit:

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Voice of Reason Mar 16, 2021 02:28 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

If I went back in time 5 years and told you the government would prohibit you from gathering with people from outside your household, schools would be closed for over a year, and religious institutions prohibited from holding services indoors all because of a virus that 99.87% of the people under 65 will survive, IF they even contract it, you'd say that is absolutely crazy and would never happen in the U.S.A.

Voice of Reason Mar 16, 2021 03:59 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

au contraire anonymous @2:46, I might have said, "damn that really sucks, must have been a very bad flu year." (yes, i understand covid is not the flu but we're going back to pre-covid times) Are you aware 3 million people die each year in the US? Here from the CDC are the leading causes of deaths:

Heart disease: 659,041
Cancer: 599,601
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 173,040
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 156,979
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 150,005

Chronic lower respiratory disease, which would cover covid, is already at #4 and at the end of 2020 covid deaths were under 400,000 so this represents less than 3 times the normal level who die annually of lower respiratory diseases. What I can't believe is accidents are so high up there.

Look at heart disease, how many of those lives you think we could have saved if we just banned fast food establishments? A life is a life right, since people can't make good eating decisions on their own it's the government's responsibly to step in and force them? Just like covid, people can't make take preventative measures on their own that's why our government needed to step in and force us? That's why California, with some of the harshest mandates in the nation, had such low covid cases/hospitalizations/deaths per capita right? ohh... wait a sec...

sacjon Mar 16, 2021 04:12 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

VOR - lemme stop you there real quick..... Heart disease, cancer, accidents and strokes are not contagious. Focus on the Chronic lower respiratory diseases, which again, are not all contagious, and you're argument might be a little more sound, but not by much.

COVID is contagious, so it depends on the policies and willingness of the people to help stop the spread. Once we started making in late summer, we successfully got the case rates down, then came along the holidays. People pissed aside the "rules" and our numbers spike higher than ever before. When something depends on others like this, you can't compare it to non communicable causes of death.

sacjon Mar 16, 2021 04:21 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

*** whoops, meant "Once we started making an effort in late summer..."

Basically, when things opened up and people stopped wearing masks and making an effort (the holidays), the numbers went up. That means, as a society, we had some easily verifiable impact on the number of COVID cases. Regardless of whether we all wear masks and socially distance our selves, cancer and hear disease will continue to kill us.

A_Villegas_102 Mar 16, 2021 04:22 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

CA was fairly middle-of-the-road in terms of deaths per capita. We did better than, for example: New Jersey, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Delaware, and more. IMO that's surprisingly good considering we have some very dense urban centers.

a-1615937265 Mar 16, 2021 04:27 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Typically, VOR is quoting outdated stats to bolster his inane positions. Here's the real story on the leading cause of death in the US in 2020, from the Journal of the American Medical Association:

Voice of Reason Mar 16, 2021 04:31 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

They may not be contagious but they are preventable, and preventing deaths is why we turned the country/state upside down right (with zero regard for the consequences as long as just 1 additional covid death was prevented it didn't matter how many people died as a result from other reasons, or how many years of life were taken from our children, covid above all else!) Had our response shown a clear benefit I'd be singing a different tune, instead, it's added the long list of government f-ups by politicians that won't be held accountable.

sacjon Mar 16, 2021 04:33 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

A VILLEGAS - thanks for reminding me of that site! Hey, VOR, if Florida is doing so much better than CA, how do you explain FL having 30K cases in the last 7 days, while CA has TWICE the population and only 24K?

a-1615937895 Mar 16, 2021 04:38 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Heart disease can take many years to develop and results from a multitude of factors besides diet: lack of exercise, family history, stress, age, smoking and sex (male) are also causative. Tough to control many of these factors, so most public health remedies are through education. Covid is. as many have mentioned. a virus that spreads through the air, and kills the vulnerable rapidly. The only quick way to control is masking and separation, and long term, vaccines. Cancer has similar causation factors to heart disease, but is probably a lot more complicated to address through public health measures. If counting respiratory disease in 2020 and annualizing the increased deaths, you have to take into account that the first covid deaths in the U.S. started to be counted in late March. 2020 had 9 months of deaths from the virus, but adding the totals including this month comes to almost 550,00 from covid alone.

Voice of Reason Mar 16, 2021 04:38 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

@ 4:27, typical VOR taking stats right from the CDC, silly me.... also, did you even read the article you posted? I don't think it supports what you think it does (though to be fair, I'm not sure exactly what you're getting at).

sacjon Mar 16, 2021 04:42 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

VOR - Not the same. Preventable (and not all them) maybe, but it's FAR easier to prevent the spread of a contagious virus than to prevent cancer, heart disease, accidents, etc. If wearing a mask stopped cancer, I'd be happy to wear one the rest of my life. This is the problem. People refused to do the simplest thing (wearing a mask in public, distancing, etc) to prevent the out of control spread of a deadly pandemic. Heart disease, cancer, etc, only when preventable, is up to the individual ALONE. Covide required us to depend on society to slow the spread to therefore decrease the risk of infection.

You CANNOT, no matter how hard you try, compare COVID to these diseases or accidents. Come one now, you know that. The "Reasoning" is all off.

a-1615938348 Mar 16, 2021 04:45 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

VOR - Perhaps you should read the article. CDC stats date to 2018. Here is what the conclusions of the article are, so you don't hoodwink other people who don't read the article:

"As occurred in the spring, COVID-19 has become the leading cause of death in the United States (daily mortality rates for heart disease and cancer, which for decades have been the 2 leading causes of death, are approximately 1700 and 1600 deaths per day, respectively4). With COVID-19 mortality rates now exceeding these thresholds, this infectious disease has become deadlier than heart disease and cancer, and its lethality may increase further as transmission increases with holiday travel and gatherings and with the intensified indoor exposure that winter brings.

Second, the reported number of COVID-19 deaths underestimates the excess deaths produced by the pandemic. Due to reporting delays and miscoding of COVID-19 deaths and an increase in non–COVID-19 deaths caused by disruptions produced by the pandemic, excess deaths are estimated to be 50% higher than publicly reported COVID-19 death counts.7 Third, COVID-19 is unlike other causes of death in the Table because it is communicable; individuals who die from homicide or cancer do not transmit the risk of morbidity or mortality to those nearby. Every COVID-19 death signals the possibility of more deaths among close contacts."

Voice of Reason Mar 16, 2021 05:08 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Sac, if anything this past year has shown is that it absolutely is NOT easier to prevent the spread of a contagious virus. Some of the strictest mandates in the country and still we could not prevent it's spread (as evident by non-restricted states having comparable results as CA). How many lockdowns has Itlay been through now, hmmm maybe this time it will work for them. Sounds much easier to ban unhealthy foods. And anonymous: yes, that is what the articles conclusion says but the stats in that very article don't back that up. Even the comments of the article state that this contradicts the CDC and the stats stated in the article which still puts heart disease at the top. I have pulled much more highly credentialed studies from prestigious medical institutions that you've shrugged off as "q-anon" or "fringe" thinking yet you rely on this weak article that doesn't even follow it's own data?

Voice of Reason Mar 16, 2021 05:12 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Correct Duke, and in case anybody forgot, they removed ALL restrictions back in September. The fact that people here still won't visit their friends, who have also been isolating, while I could drive to a state that has zero restrictions/mandates with very similar covid numbers is absolutely mindboggling. I am scared for our future, too few people mindlessly follow what's on the TV and seem to be incapable of independent critical decision making.

sacjon Mar 16, 2021 05:23 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

VOR - your "independent critical decision making" is flawed logic. You're comparing heart disease and cancer to COVID. I rest my case.

Florida's numbers went up just as ours did after the holidays, so they sure as heck didn't prevent a spread. Yeah, CA had more restrictions and it cost us a lot, but to say Florida had better control of the virus is wrong. They only "beat" us in that they had similar numbers (again with 1/2 the population) but without all the restrictions. I agree with you and DUKE - we should have had more open businesses and schools here, since it didn't seem to curb the spread that much, but NO ONE prevented the spread better than anyone else. We ALL failed on that part.

dukemunson Mar 16, 2021 05:46 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Sac - I love you!! But the cdc link is accounting for population (it’s per 100k)... so it’s not 1/2.... it’s accounted for! Cali is at 140 deaths per 100k and Florida is at 150. Florida has the much older population... thus I’m calling it a “wash”!!

sacjon Mar 16, 2021 05:54 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

DUKE - right, the per 100K numbers account for population, but the Cases in last 7 days (CA's 24K to FL's 30K) show that, despite having half the population of CA, Florida is way ahead of us in OVERALL cases in the last 7 days. I love you, too?

dukemunson Mar 16, 2021 06:13 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

And sorry... since school reopened I’ve told pretty much EVERYONE I love them! The guy at Cucas looked slightly uncomfortable with my burrito order ending in I love you yesterday! I’m sorry!!! We’re back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Voice of Reason Mar 16, 2021 06:33 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

GT 100% not true. Most likely you mistook (it’s got to be internally by now) my desire to get politics and politicians out of medicine as those decisions should be between doctor and patient and no one else. Similar to how you think my criticism of the DNC and their decades long string of unfulfilled promises, hypocrisy and flat out lying means I’m a q-anon Trump supporter.

a-1615948465 Mar 16, 2021 07:34 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Yeah, half a million excess deaths was just a statistical hiccup in the normal death rate from those underlying conditions. Nothing to see here folks, it's all a political hoax and fake news, according to the social media experts.

sacjon Mar 16, 2021 07:52 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

SBLOCAL - if they would still be alive if not for having COVID, regardless of their underlying conditions, then COVID killed them. Nothing fancy, not politics, just simple, elementary school level comprehension of the word, "causation."

PitMix Mar 17, 2021 07:14 AM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

500,000+ dead US citizens disagree with you. The many 1000s of long haulers disagree with you. The majority of people in CA disagree with you. But it is your constitutionally protected right to rant, keep it up!

NonBidenary Mar 17, 2021 07:48 AM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

VOR’s stats are more compelling than yours. You cite DEATH DEATH DEATH as a fearmongering number without going into the substats of comorbidities, etc, which, unless you choose to be obtuse, we all know played a great factor in that .0016% of the population of the US that has died.

GeneralTree Mar 17, 2021 09:16 AM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Voice of Reason - true I may have mixed you up with somebody else. All good. I think you are influenced by propaganda easily disproven - not necessarily a Q or Trump supporter - but following messaging propagated by these factions. Have a nice day :)

PitMix Mar 17, 2021 10:55 AM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Non, do you have fun blaming the victims for their comorbidities? I guess you and everyone you know are marathon running non-junk food eating non drinking vegans? Not a diabetic or high blood pressure person in the bunch? No cancer or kidney disease or asthma? I'll be looking for you with your superpeople tattoos.

sacjon Mar 16, 2021 03:48 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

OOPS - it's super simple answer. The red tier, like others, is based on a set # per 100K people. Once we reach that number, we're in the tier. Just like work assignments are due on certain days, people are eligible for age based things based on DOB, even holidays are on certain days..... because when you set up a process/event, etc, you have milestones and target dates, not just whenever OOPS feels like it. Part of being in a functioning society. We're all used to it.

sacjon Mar 16, 2021 05:17 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

OOPS - if it means keeping my children and elderly parents safe, I will listen to medical experts yeah. Not sure if that was suppose to be an insult or what, but I'm proud to say I haven't been fooled by videos on youtube. Have fun with that!

Artemisia Mar 16, 2021 04:26 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Our small group of 6 friends has been waiting for months to be able to get together outdoors, distanced, masked. These rules say we still can't do that since we're from more than three households, but 100 people can meet indoors to worship. Maybe we can designate our book club meetings to be cultural ceremonies?

Voice of Reason Mar 16, 2021 04:53 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Artemisia, we've been at this a year now, you should know better than to look for common sense with these ever shifting mandates. Everyone knows the risk factors associated with covid and ways to mitigate it's transmission. You and your small group of friends are old enough to make these kind of educated decisions on your own, based on what works best for you, your family, and friends. You do not need a bureaucrat (with a rather poor track record at getting covid right) to tell you when you can invite your friend into your home.

Artemisia Mar 16, 2021 05:35 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Voice, I agree with you about that but in this case it's not my decision. My real problem is that a group of six craftspeople has been meeting for many years at a uniquely suitable location. This venue is required to adhere to the Tier rules. Although the rules have been relaxed in several ways under the Red Tier, the "three household" restriction on Gatherings-- even though it's inconsistent with that for Worship Services -- means that we are still not allowed to meet there.

ChemicalSuperFreak Mar 16, 2021 07:03 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

Yup, I think your gathering of 6 friends is completely reasonable and you should just blow off that idiotic restriction. Why is it idiotic? Because you can have breakfast in the morning with two different people, each from a separate household, and then you can meet with two different people, each from separate households, for dinner in the evening. There are no rules preventing this. So by the end of the day, you have met with 2 x 2 different households, which is 4. But wait, what about if each of those other people you met that day had also gathered with two people from different households before meeting you? That’s not unreasonable. You’ll have been effectively exposed to 16 different households that day! It’s exponential (H = x*n^y), so the numbers really explode if you start considering the possibilities. Just enjoy your friends, as it sounds like it will be good for all of you to see each other again, and the case numbers are quite low right now. Doesn’t sound like you guys will be getting all that intimate with each other…but who knows what kind of meeting you all are planning ;) Stay safe.

a-1615957987 Mar 16, 2021 10:13 PM
Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday

4:26 - the CDC says, once you’re fully vaccinated and have waited 14 days, “you can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people”. I’m not ready to do that, but I’d sure gather outdoors.....


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