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COVID-19 outbreaks raise concerns at nursing homes in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara

Skilled nursing facilities to get tested during outbreaks
Tracy Lehr / KEYT
Valle Verde Senior Living Community in Santa Barbara.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - There are 14 skilled nursing facilities in Santa Barbara County and two of them have COVID-19 outbreaks.

Public Health Director Van Do Reynoso said, "We have five staff and five residents at County Oaks and one positive case at Valle Verde."

County Oaks Care Center is in Santa Maria, where the county has been trying to figure out why their community is one of the hardest hit by the virus.

Valle Verde is in Santa Barbara.

Do-Reynoso said it only takes one case in a congregate living situation for it to be considered an outbreak.

The county plans to test about 1,000 residents and about 2,000 staff members at all the facilities in the county by the end of the month.

They need to show the state they are protecting their vulnerable residents.

The county announced nine new COVID-19 cases on Monday, with 43 people in the hospital and nine of those in intensive care.

The numbers will be considered during a county meeting on Wednesday that could pave the way for more reopenings as soon as Friday.

Supervisor Gregg Hart said if the county meets the state guidelines, hotels, gyms, indoor museums, zoos, bars and wineries and campgrounds will be able to reopen. Nail salons are not included.

Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said he will release a new health order.

"We plan to issue a new health officer order this Wednesday allowing for more business sectors to open."

The businesses must go to and agree to make the modifications needed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Dr. Ansorg said Memorial Day weekend openings led to a small uptick in hospitalizations, but he remains optimistic that they opened at the right time and in the right way.

They will be watching for links to protests next.

Do-Reynoso said she attended a protest with her daughter and was glad to see people protecting themselves and others.

"Everyone was wearing face coverings. I'm optimistic we will not see a huge impact from the protests."

Dr. Ansorg agrees.

"They just started 10 days ago and the infectious period is two weeks, so we will see by next week what affect it had."

Dr. Ansorg said the reopenings are not business as usual as he described going to the dentist.

"I thought I was on a different planet because the people, the dentist and hygienist looked like aliens."

He called their protective gear and equipment was impressive.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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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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