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Public Health officials warn families to play it COVID-safe this Thanksgiving in hopes of reopening schools next year

People dine out on eve of covid curfew as public health leaders urge people to avoid gatherings
Eve of COVID curfew
Tracy Lehr / KEYT
SB COUNTY public health 112020
Tracy Lehr / KEYT

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Santa Barbara County's COVID-19 update focused on educating the community about the statewide curfew that begins Saturday night.

County leaders urged people to celebrate Thanksgiving differently this year, now that the county is back in the Purple Tier.

Although Santa Barbara County numbers seem to be doing better than neighboring counties, they are seeing case spikes that could soon lead to an increase in ICU cases.

Infectious Disease physician Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons said, "Small groups of individuals are perhaps more vocally going against the grain, but I feel very fundamentally in our community we have a population that cares, is invested, is well informed, and is doing it right, and I will go so far as to say I think it is because of the community's efforts, our health departments efforts, our county's efforts, it is because of all that, that even though our numbers are going up, we re going up last, we are going up last as all of our neighbors, our entire region has exploded. "

Dr. Fitzgibbons remains optimistic that people will do the right thing even if the size of Thanksgiving celebrations are limited.

Contract tracing has linked many new cases to Halloween parties and small groups of friends dining out for lunch and dinner.

Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said people may not realize they have exposed friends and coworkers.

“A lot of people are not realizing that gathering is when you get together with those outside your immediate household, so it could be 2 people, it could be 5 people. Two weeks ago, I read notes that indicate a gathering of 5 good friends having lunch and they all end up positive, this week is was six people having dinner together, so we are talking about all sized of gathering. I will really want to impress upon our community to not gather, to not hang out, not have lunches, not get together not have interactions in a social setting prolonged with those who are outside your household because we are seeing that," said Dr. Do-Reynoso.

Supervisor Gregg Hart said code enforcement teams will be following up with educational warnings during what he called a learning curve.

But he said other enforcement could follow egregious behavior.

Dr. Fitzgibbons said she wants her own children to be able to return to in- person learning in some fashion next year, but she said plans can't be made until the results of these prevention effort are known.

The next county COVID update will be held on the first Friday in December.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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