SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — Halloween is here, and it’s come at a critical time as coronavirus cases have slowly started to rise throughout Santa Barbara County.
“The positive cases this week in both Isla Vista and Santa Maria are pushing us further away from making it into the orange tier,” second district supervisor Gregg Hart said.
Throughout the pandemic, Isla Vista has only accounted for 4% of the county’s total COVID-19 cases.
Over the past few weeks however, the virus has made its way through the compact community.
According to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, there are now 26 active cases in Isla Vista.
“This recent rise is cases has put Isla Vista at the top of the list,” Emergency Medical Services Agency director Nick Clay said. “It has the highest seven day sum of cases in the county for the first time since this pandemic began.”
What happens next in IV will be up to its’ residents.
“That means stop having parties, wear a mask and don’t just practice social distancing or physical distancing,” Clay said. “Actually do it.”
This weekend, county officials are preaching precaution and urging everyone to avoid Halloween gatherings.
“I’m very hopeful that like Labor Day weekend, our community will rally to this moment,” Hart said. “Avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus through irresponsible behavior.”
Although traditional trick-or-treating isn’t advised, the county is allowing locals to safely celebrate the holiday in creative ways.
This evening, Franklin Elementary School hosted a trunk-or-treat celebrations, where candy was handed out from the trunks of cars lined up within the school’s parking lot.
“It’s just amazing to see the kids,” Franklin Elementary teacher Maggie Flores. “It’s just a warm feeling to get to see them here at this kind of an event.”
“It’s so cool, I just love how they did something,” Franklin Elementary student Chloe Ortiz said. “Because we would just be sitting on our phones at our house.”
Looking ahead, the county is preparing for the potential spread of COVID-19 from Thanksgiving festivities.
“Given the current state of the pandemic, this is a particularly bad time to be planning to visit relatives,” Hart concluded.