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Santa Barbara County opening up as coronavirus cases decline

School Reopening
Scott Sheahen/KEYT

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — After a year filled with restrictions, the lid has been lifted for some schools as new coronavirus cases decline throughout Santa Barbara County.

“Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 metrics continue to decline,” public health director Van Do-Reynoso said. “This is something to celebrate.”

This week, elementary school students — kindergarten through sixth grade — returned to the classroom for in-person instruction.

High school sports also kicked off the countdown to a shortened spring season, which will begin on March 18th.

“We are thrilled that our youth sports teams have been able to start training again,” public health officer Henning Ansorg said.

However, fans aren’t allowed in the stands, as spectators are limited to athlete’s immediate household members. 

“We want as few people around the field as possible to avoid crowds,” Ansorg explained. “To make it possible for everybody who is on the sidelines to social distance.”

Next week, the county expects to receive 3,800 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Week after week, we continue to see a very high percentage of vaccines being administered in our county,” Do-Reynoso said.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is delivered in a single dose and is much easier to transport. 

This means that more people will be vaccinated in a shorter timeframe.

“This vaccine will become a preferred option for many people very quickly,” Ansorg added.

Even as restrictions ease, local health experts hope that the community doesn’t yet let their guard down.

“At this stage we still have to be careful,” Ansorg concluded. “We cannot get ahead of ourselves just yet.”

In order to reach the red tier, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is encouraging as many people as possible to get tested for COVID-19 in order to limit the spread and bring down new case numbers.

To visit a COVID-19 testing site, click here.

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist and sports anchor at NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.

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