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Governor Newsom recommends closing bars in Santa Barbara, Ventura counties following rise in COVID-19 cases

Bars brace for possible closures
Tracy Lehr / KEYT
california governor seal newsom

Governor Gavin Newsom posted a tweet on Sunday ordering and recommending the closures of bars in multiple counties across California following a rise in COVID-19 cases.

The counties where bars must close include Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin and Tulare.

Bars are recommended to close in Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Stanislaus and Ventura counties.

On their Bar Closure Guidance page, the state explained that counties added to the County Monitoring List must close their bars immediately if they remain on the list for longer than 14 days. Counties who have been on the list for more than three days and less than 14 days are only recommended to close their bars.

"Physical movement within the establishment, duration of time spent in the establishment, and the degree of social mixing within individuals and groups are all greater in bars than in other hospitality sectors," the guidance page said in their justification section. "Further, alcohol consumption slows brain activity, reduces inhibition, and impairs judgment, factors which contribute to reduced compliance with recommended core personal protective measures, such as the mandatory use of face coverings and maintaining six feet of distance from people outside of one’s own household."

The County Data Monitoring List shows that Santa Barbara County has had too high of a case rate at 122.5 cases per 100,000 residents which surpasses the state's threshold of 100.

Ventura County is on the monitoring list for a greater than 10% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Their hospitalization rate currently measures at  12.9%.

As of Friday, there were 49 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Ventura County and 81 new cases reported in Santa Barbara County. Ventura County also reported 58 hospitalizations on Friday and Santa Barbara County reported 54.

These new recommended closures come days after tattoo parlors, nail salons and other personal care businesses were allowed to reopen by the Santa Barbara and Ventura County Public Health Departments.

It also comes shortly after the Governor unveiled a new COVID-19 Assessment Tool which uses the data currently known about the virus to predict future rises in deaths and hospitalizations. This tool predicted a spike in deaths in both Santa Barbara and Ventura counties over the next month.

Despite identifying about 300 new cases over the past week, SB County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said the majority of cases remain asymptomatic. SBC Public Health said on Friday that this surge in cases can be attributed to an increase in testing of people without symptoms throughout the county.

Bars in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties were allowed to reopen earlier this month after remaining closed for the past three months of the pandemic.

Santa Barbara County Public Health released a statement Sunday evening saying, "The County Health Officer is strongly considering options to address these concerns."

“I implore all community members to adhere to strict physical distancing at all times and avoid gatherings. Until there is a vaccine, the use of face coverings in conjunction with physical distancing is the most effective way to stop the spread of this virus,” shared Dr. Henning Ansorg, Health Officer for Santa Barbara County. “The State’s recommendation comes at a critical time. There is a still an opportunity to make a difference in the course of this pandemic, but we must all recommit to this effort.”

Health / Local Politics / Money and Business / Politics / Santa Barbara- S County / Ventura County

Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor at KEYT | KCOY | KKFX.