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Virtual COVID-19 conference speakers urge residents to help Santa Barbara County get off state monitoring list

Tuesday COVID-19 update
Tracy Lehr / KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- At Tuesday's Santa Barbara County COVID-19 conference, Supervisor Gregg Hart and Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso urged people to take prevention efforts seriously.

The County remains on the state's COVID-19 monitoring list based on elevated disease transmission, increasing hospitalization and limited hospital capacity.

Santa Barbara County's hospitalization rate is below the state standard and the hospital capacity is sufficient, but elevated disease transmission is the weak link.

The rate of COVID-19 positive case per 100,000 people and the COVID-19 positivity rate are not meeting meeting state standards.

The County is among 37 counties in the state that need to show improvements before relaxing closures.

Recent contact tracing identifies person-to-person contact in a home or social gatherings as the most common source of COVID-19 transmission.

Hart said contract tracing shows two-thirds of the cases where they have found the point of transmission show that transmission is occurring behind closed doors rather where it is not as easy to physically distance and people don't always wear masks..

He also said people who live outside the household may not show symptoms while spreading the virus.

Hart said financial hardships are a major concern even as state unemployment benefits continue.

"It doesn't take an economist to understand how difficult it is to pay rent and survive in Santa Barbara County on $1350 a month when our housing costs are some of the highest in the state. The loss of Federal unemployment support will directly hurt nearly 32 million Americans very hard. This loss of income will ripple through the economy and effect every one of us."

The $600 CARES ACT unemployment benefit runs out on Friday unless a compromise can be made among lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Van Do-Reynoso said the county is also trying to help farmworkers impacted by an outbreak at a housing facility in Santa Maria.

She said the outbreak mirrors what is happening to essential workers nationwide. She said the county is working with the grower and outside agencies to care for the 85 patients who are not hospitalized.

Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg did not attend the update due to his workload, but he is expected to attend some of the updates in the weeks and months to come.

Dr. Do-Reynoso also offered some tips to parents. She shared her personal experience preparing her daughter to begin her junior year in high dchool online.

Reynoso said students should focus on right now and not what may happen in the spring. She said those kinds of uncertainties may cause anxiety.

Suzanne Grimmesey of the County's Behavioral Wellness Department also has children returning to school. Grimmesey said now is the time to start creating a daily routine that will help students during the new online school reality.

She said the routine is something that can be changed as needed in an effort to give students some structure to make the school days go smoothly.

Agriculture / Coronavirus / Education / Health / Money and Business / Safety

Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of KCOY|KEYT|KKFX.

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