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Santa Barbara County anticipates move to red reopening tier

State Street downtown walking
Ryan Fish/KEYT
Santa Barbara County could move into state's red reopening tier next week.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — Over the past three weeks, Santa Barbara County has been stuck in the state’s restrictive purple tier.

For the week of September 6 through 12, the county's case rate was 6.7. The threshold for the 'red tier' is four to seven cases per 100,000.

This one week in the red is a good credit towards advancement. The county must have two consecutive weeks of numbers that qualify for the red tier to move forward

“If we can maintain a downward trend in new cases per day and testing positivity, we will most likely be officially assigned to the red tier next Tuesday,” public health director Van Do-Reynoso said.

The possible move from the widespread tier to the substantial tier would allow numerous businesses to reopen. 

This would include places of worship, fitness centers, personal care services and museums.

Restaurants would also be able to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity.

“It’s very important to acknowledge that we are on the verge of a significant milestone,” second district supervisor Gregg Hart said. “However, we cannot become complacent and imagine that the worst of the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror.”

“With the fall and winter holidays around the corner, we are concerned that new cases will be rising due to gatherings and celebrations,” Do-Reynoso said.

Another concern is an uptick in coronavirus infections among young adults throughout California.

“In August, the test positivity rate for 20-year-olds was the highest ever at 23%,” public health officer Henning Ansorg said.

County officials also hope to avoid a repeat of what transpired in late May — when many businesses rapidly reopened causing a significant surge in COVID-19 cases.

If something similar were to take place again, the county could fall back into the purple tier and many businesses would have to shut down once again.

If Santa Barbara County remained in the red tier for 14 days, then all K through 12 schools would be able to reopen with in-person instruction. 

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Blake DeVine

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


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