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Coronavirus

Santa Barbara County remains in the purple tier of COVID restrictions

COVID TEST
Courtesy Photo
Santa Barbara County Health officials are encouraging more members of the public to get a COVID test as a way they say will bring down the rate of positive cases. (Courtesy photo)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County remains in the "purple" tier again this week, based on COVID-19 cases, which means no significant changes will be taking place for businesses looking for occupancy changes.

That means, for example, indoor dining is not allowed.  That will change if the county gets into the red tier, and 25 percent seating capacity is allowed.

"We are right on the edge of the red line," said Santa Barbara County Supervisor Gregg Hart.

He urged the public to follow the rules on spacing, gatherings and masks to help the county get into the next tier and reduce the virus spread.

The county will be making a request later this week for skilled nursing facilities to allow two outside visitors.  Currently none are allowed.
Assistant County Executive Officer Nancy Anderson said, "assessments for tier changes occur every Tuesday."     

A county has to be in a tier for three weeks before a change can be made.   The next assessment will be September 15.

The push for more widespread testing is in full force.  The county is expecting the percentage of confirmed cases to go down as a larger group of residents are tested.

"Currently we have three state sponsored test sites in Santa Maria, Buellton and Goleta," said Santa Barbara County Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso.  "Community members can also seek testing from their providers.

Early on their was a shortage of testing supplies and processing supplies," said Do-Reynoso. Currently the state has increased its supplies and , "the turnaround time has greatly improved."

Monday, for example, those seeking a current test appointment in one of three locations, Goleta, were offered times on the upcoming Sunday and Monday.

"We are encouraging people to get tested because of the availability" she said.  Also because of the quick turnaround time and to also find our if you are asymptomatic.

Supervisor Das Williams said, "If we don't utilize the testing sites the state has provided, we may lose them."

The county will be making a request later this week for skilled nursing facilities to allow two outside visitors.  Currently none are allowed.
14 schools have applied for, and received waivers to open.   Additional information has been requested from other schools that have applied.

In public comments, the Supervisors heard comments about the need for more tests and protection for farm workers, Hispanics and Blacks due to a disproportion number of cases in those groups.

"You guys have been focused on that all summer," said Supervisor Das Williams to the health director. Do-Reynoso says, "we have always been mindful on health equity issues."   She says the county has been working on  preventing efforts, testing efforts and treatment.

Drive-up flu clinics will also being developed.  They will take place October 6 - 15.  Sites in Lompoc and Santa Barbara are being confirmed.  Details will be released soon.  Anyone 3 years of age and older can receive a free flu shot.

Do-Reynoso says, "the drive-up model allows for a safe vaccination for the public."   She says the county also plans to use the same model when the COVID-19 vaccine comes out.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.

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