SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — Exactly six months ago, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors declared the coronavirus pandemic a local health emergency.
Half a year later and over 100 county residents have passed away from this deadly virus.
"It has been a grueling tough six months for everyone,” public health director Van Do-Reynoso said.
Santa Barbara County is averaging 7.9 new cases each day per 100,000 residents with a 5.5% testing positivity rate.
However, the number of people being tested in the county is below the state average.
This has caused an adjusted case rate per 100,000 people within California’s four-tier review, which makes it more challenging to move down a tier.
When a county does not meet the state’s standard for testing, it can be penalized with increased positivity rate and case rate.
"It is critical that we are testing more than the state average,” emergency medical services agency director Nick Clay said. “That number changes every week so it's a moving target."
In an effort to achieve widespread testing, community members can in turn help Santa Barbara County protect the health and safety of our neighbors while fulfilling requirements to progress in reopening.
“This helps us with surveillance of the virus and also helps us meet the metrics that the state has established to move into the next tier,” second district supervisor Gregg Hart said.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department also issued an order requiring temperature screening, self-evaluation, and reporting of COVID-19 cases at all homeless shelters and H-2A housing.
The order is effective starting at 5:00 p.m. on Monday.
"Prevention efforts and quick response will facilitate the best possible outcomes for the residents,” Do-Reynoso said.
Today four additional elementary schools were given permission by the state to reopen in-person instruction.
These schools include Santa Ynez Valley Christian Academy, Santa Ynez Valley Family School, Pacific Christian Elementary School and Coastline Christian Academy.
"The reward for increased diligence will be increased opportunity,” Hart said.
However, with the flu season approaching there are concerns of a possible twin pandemic.
"With flu season around the corner, we must in the next few weeks aggressively take action to decrease disease and increase our testing,” Do-Reynoso concluded.
Santa Barbara County is conducting over 1,400 COVID-19 tests each day.
Despite this large number, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is hoping to increase its testing capacity before next week’s four-tier rating review on Tuesday.