SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — For the 32nd day in a row, Santa Barbara County was on California’s coronavirus watchlist.
With 137 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the county’s case rate is now 10 times higher than the state’s acceptable threshold.
“I am worried about our increasing case rates and test positivity rates,” public health director Van Do-Reynoso said.
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, numerous businesses — gyms, personal care services and hair salons— were shut down for a second time on Monday.
“We’ve seen record high case counts,” Cottage Health infectious disease expert Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons said. “We continue to see more patients admitted into our hospitals with serious and life-threatening complications.”
Just two months ago, the curve had successfully been flattened throughout most of the county.
This allowed businesses to begin reopening with new safety measures.
Nevertheless, the pandemic persisted with more people out and about.
“What was only a small number of community transmission in early May ultimately took a strong foothold in our community by early June,” Fitzgibbons said.
“As businesses have reopened, we’ve begun mixing together,” county Board of Supervisors chairman Gregg Hart said. “Higher risk contact has increased and the virus is again spreading in our community.”
This high-risk contact typically takes place indoors when people are interacting without masks for more than 15 minutes.
For those who have recovered from COVID-19, new research points towards the frightening possibility of catching the virus a second time.
“We now know that some people either fail to make neutralizing antibodies,” Fitzgibbons said. “After only a couple of months, some seem to lose their neutralizing antibodies. Perhaps leaving them vulnerable to catching this virus again.”
In order for the county to move forward with reopening rather than the recent reverse backwards, public safety compliance is key.
“If we want to reopen the closed businesses, now is the time to wear a mask and keep six feet apart from others,” Hart said.
“We must adjust our distancing, we must consistently wear masks and we must frequently wash our hands,” Fitzgibbons concluded.
The county health department is also stressing that wearing a mask must become second nature to everyone — similar to fastening a seatbelt — to help slow the spread of COVID-19.