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Santa Barbara County prepares for Coronavirus threat

SB County Coronavirus Preparedness Update
Scott Sheahen / KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- "We have zero cases of COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County," explained Santa Barbara County deputy director of Community Health Paige Batson.

While county officials said there are zero confirmed cases, they said county officials were notified of 43 individuals who traveled from China. All but three have cleared so far and officials expect the other three to be cleared as well.

Friday county officials hosted members of the media for an update of the county's preparedness. A panel of five gave updates pertaining to their divisions: Public Heath public information officer Jackie Ruiz, Batson, health officer Dr. Henning  Ansorg, Public Health emergency preparedness manager Jan Koegler and director of Emergency Management Kelly Hubbard.

A point Batson and Dr. Ansorg reiterated is Santa Barbara County has experience with such disease control from H1N1, Ebola and Tuberculosis. Batson continued saying people are encouraged to wash their hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 second, cover the mouth with their elbow when they cough and stay home if they're feeling sick.

Dr. Ansorg said the county is "already in alarm mode." That means the county already activated emergency response systems two weeks ago and emergency operations this week. And the state's declaration allows local governments Santa Barbara County to have access to more resources to be prepared.

Officials are also currently working out what the best plan to quarantine someone might be, whether in a hospital or at home.

"That person is closely monitored and in most instances, everyone is working very cooperatively," said Batson.

Dr. Ansorg said people with chronic illnesses and elderly are the most at risk. And if a case comes to Santa Barbara County, people should consider not going to events where you're within arms length of others for more than 30 minutes. In the meantime health officials stress basic health practices.

"The important of good hygiene," said Batson, "of good respiratory etiquette. Coughing into your elbow, washing your hands, ideally whenever there is soap and water available. We encourage that. Make sure you wash for twenty seconds."

People in coronavirus impacted areas are already starting to build up an immunity to the virus. The county also plans to launch a new website with more up-to-date information. Information will be available in both English and Spanish.

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Scott Sheahen

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