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Santa Barbara enters second week of loosened mask mandates

Scott Sheahen / KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The COVID-19 pandemic in early March 2022, is much different in Santa Barbara than two weeks ago. Santa Barbara County Public Health (SBCPH) states new daily cases are down 41% and active cases down 38%. Both are good news for the pandemic.

During the peak of the 5th wave, January 10, there were 259.6 new cases per 100,000 people. As of February 26, there were only 11.5 per 100,000. That’s a decline of 95.6% of cases in about seven weeks.

SBCPH director, Van Do-Reynoso, said, “We were anticipating that the downward trend would continue. And that is why lifted our universal indoors masking order to align with the state.”

On February 16, SBCPH removed the indoor mask mandate. Businesses went from displaying signs requiring masks for everyone to some signs reading optional for those who are vaccinated. 

Robyn Antonucci visited Downtown Carpinteria from Ventura. She said, “I’m glad people are going to have a choice so they can make their own choice. My choice is still wear it for now until I feel comfortable.”

80% of those 5 and older in Santa Barbara County have gotten at least one vaccine dose and 72% are fully vaccinated. That high vaccine rate plus 36 thousand confirmed COVID cases in the county since the start of the fifth wave has given the community a lot of protection.

Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons is one of Cottage Health's infectious disease specialists. She said, “As of March 2022, the community in Santa Barbara County, California is very well protected.”

However, health officials said now is not the time to get complacent. The best way to avoid a sixth wave or more shutdowns is to get everyone eligible fully vaccinated and boosted.

“Coronavirus immunity, you have to remember,” said Dr. Fitzgibbons, “is very different from measles immunity, or another disease that’s either black or white, you’re either protected or you’re not protected. The problem with the coronavirus itself, our protection our immunity against coronavirus is it does tend to wain in perhaps months or a small number of years.”

To learn more about where to get a COVID-19 vaccine visit

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Scott Sheahen

Scott Sheahen is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Scott, click here.


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