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SB County Public Health concerned with rising hospitalization rates, halts reopening

State Street Crowded
Blake DeVine/KEYT
Despite COVID-19 cases rapidly rising, it’s been a common sight to see large crowds on State Street.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — It’s been 100 days since the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department issued a declaration of a local health emergency.

With businesses reopening and restrictions being lifted throughout the county, more COVID-19 cases have been reported than previously anticipated. 

"Our hospitals are reaching their capacity for taking care of COVID-19 patients,” Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said.

On Friday, 67 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Santa Barbara County. 

"As we are learning this week, the path forward won't necessarily be straight,” Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart said.

Over the past week, the county averaged 50 new cases per day.

This recent spike in cases has the county health officer concerned. 

"When reopening on Memorial Day weekend and even more so the week after, we did expect that our numbers would likely increase a bit,” Ansorg said. “However, I did not imagine that it would happen to such a degree."

According to the public health department, hospitalization rates have reached the highest on record since the pandemic began. 

"We really need to limit our mobility,” Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said. "Limiting our exiting of the house, keeping it to really essential outings."

As businesses have reopened, many have been spotted without a mask in public.

This has been especially prevalent on State Street, with large crowds walking around downtown while dining at restaurants. 

On Thursday, a statewide order from California Governor Gavin Newsom requires people to wear masks in most indoor settings and outdoors when six-foot physical distancing isn’t possible.

"Face coverings are a necessary and critical tool to reduce the spread the virus from an invisibly infected person to someone close by,” Hart said.

With an eye towards the weekend, public health leaders are urging people to take the virus seriously.

"In COVID-19 times, one week is an eternity,” Ansorg concluded.

Nail salons, tattoo parlors, spas and other personal care businesses were scheduled to reopen on Friday. 

However, this effort was halted because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases throughout the county.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Blake DeVine

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