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New COVID numbers could ruin holiday plans unless they can be slowed quickly

COVID cases are up in Santa Barbara County but lower than nearby areas.
Covd testing
COVID testing sites remain busy as numbers go up in all California Counties including on the Central Coast.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The trending COVID-19 numbers are impacting the Central Coast as much as anywhere in California. That's caused health officials to issue urgent warnings about the holiday season now upon us.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors got an update from health officials in a special meeting Tuesday.

Governor Gavin Newsom has already revealed his plan to increase restrictions on businesses and the public overall, if the COVID numbers don't go down.

That could make it harder on restaurants, bars, hairdressers, gyms, barbers, museum and retail stores.

Companies planning holiday parties are rethinking their plans this year with social gathering banned in many areas. It is a primary source of the COVID spread according to health officials.

Newsom indicated Monday, a limited stay-at-home order could be issued requiring California residents to avoid movement outside of their home except for essential

The county has health officers inspecting nightlife locations to make sure there's adequate spacing in lines, no gathering at bars and employees wearing all the required safety gear. Some violation letters have gone out in the last month, mainly from Halloween weekend.

There's also been a heavy outreach in the college community of Isla Vista where there had been a COVID surge in the last two months, that has since calmed down.

Santa Barbara County is also urging those who traveled for Thanksgiving weekend to self quarantine for 14 days.

Santa Barbara County Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said Santa Barbara County is preparing to receive a vaccine for COVID-19 but the prioritization has not been determined.

Health officials say it's expected that first phase of the vaccine will go to health care workers and first responders.

A special work group has been brought together including local health care clinics, UC Santa Barbara, Vandenberg Air Force Base and first responders.

The latest numbers from the state show 51 of the 58 counties in the most restrictive tier, purple. That's 99% of the California population. The other seven counties make up 1% of the population. Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties are all still in the purple tier.

From November 16 to November 30 there has been a 10 percent increase in cases in Santa Barbara.

Hospitalizations have gone up and health officials say those numbers will usually go up about three weeks after a surge increase.

The top categories for cases include: clerical-management , the under 18 population and the retired or unemployed.

"It is obvious that people are telecommuting less," said Supervisor Das Williams who asked where the clerical workers are getting the COVID and what's being done about it. He was also interested in the similar numbers in Ventura County where he says many workers who commute to Santa Barbara, live.

Do-Reynoso said the spread is not necessarily happening in a fixed work location.

A Goleta resident Lisa Sloan said efforts that could lead to a lockdown order will be harmful. She wanted the opposite. "It's time to open up the county," she said while speaking remotely to the Supervisors.

Linda Cole said the numbers she is seeing on Monday do not look complete because they don't include weekend COVID cases. She is getting her information through the media.

Do-Reynoso said she wanted the public to get accurate information directly from the county's website where daily numbers are posted.

Supervisor Gregg Hart says if there is a regional rollout of the stay at home order having numbers that are, "better than our neighbors" will be helpful.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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