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Santa Barbara County Public Health stressing safety to combat COVID-19

Rising COVID-19 Cases
Scott Sheahen/KEYT
Over the past two weeks, COVID-19 cases have nearly doubled in Santa Barbara County.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Despite reopening efforts being put on pause and numerous Fourth of July weekend festivities canceled, coronavirus cases have continued to rise throughout Santa Barbara County. 

“This has been another very difficult week,” Santa Barbara County District 2 Supervisor Gregg Hart said. “Positive COVID-19 cases are rising significantly across all parts of our county.”

This alarming assessment comes as COVID-19 cases have increased by 42% over the past two weeks. 

While most people have played their part to help slow the spread of the virus — by wearing masks, practicing physical distancing and frequent sanitizing — others have let their guard down. 

"We’re four months into the pandemic and we all have gotten complacent,” Santa Barbara County Public Health director Van Do-Reynoso said. “This is a reminder that until we have a vaccine, with our cases going up, we need to do what we can to prevent it.”

“Each of us must do more to protect ourselves, loved ones and neighbors from contracting the virus,” Hart said.

With the demand for testing sky high, some are waiting up to two weeks before being tested for COVID-19.

Yet, there’s also been another unexpected setback. 

“We are seeing a trend of high number of missed appointments,” said Santa Barbara County Emergency Medical Services Agency director Nick Clay. “This is incredibly frustrating.”

With most testing sights booked to capacity with no immediate availability, lab results have significantly slowed down.

“Less than two weeks ago, turnaround times used to be around 24 hours,” Santa Barbara County Public Health lab director Stewart Comer said. “Now, it could take three days for results to show up.”

With no immediate end in sight for the pandemic, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is advising people to adapt in order to push through this difficult time. 

“You must assume that everyone you come into contact with may be infectious,” Do-Reynoso said.

“We all need to focus on building a lifestyle that’s sustainable and fulfilling despite the necessity to wear masks, wash hands and avoid close contact with others,” Hart concluded.

Since mid-March, over 54,000 COVID-19 tests have been conducted within the county through the public health department.

For a complete breakdown of coronavirus cases in Santa Barbara County, click here.

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist at KEYT NewsChannel 3, KCOY NewsChannel 12 and KKFX My Fox 11