SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — A cluster of coronavirus cases have appeared in Isla Vista after several parties took place where many attendees did not wear masks.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department said 34 individuals who live in five separate privately-owned fraternity and sorority houses recently tested positive.
“An innocently attended gathering can lead to an outbreak,” second district supervisor Gregg Hart said. “A small outbreak can quickly spread in a dense community to become widespread community transmission.”
The outbreak initially appeared to be contained, as those testing positive were quickly quarantined.
“Unfortunately, additional testing now shows that outbreak was not contained within the residents of the affected sororities and fraternities,” Hart said.
UCSB, SBCC and county officials are sending a joint letter to all students in response.
The letter reminds everyone to continue adhering to the county’s pandemic protocols.
It also threatens to possibly suspend or expel students hosting large gatherings.
“If the residents involved in the parties that started this outbreak had been more responsible and considered the potential consequences of their actions, this could have been avoided entirely,” Hart said.
As a result of this recent outbreak, Santa Barbara County will likely miss out on the opportunity to enter into the state’s orange reopening tier.
“The increase in cases will definitely have an affect,” public health director Van Do-Reynoso said. “It’s collectively adding to the daily number of cases allowed.”
“Local businesses must have the opportunity to fully reopen, so that lost jobs in our local economy can recover,” Hart said.
With Halloween on the horizon, county officials continue to preach precaution.
“No one should be participating in the traditional trick-or-treating this year,” Do-Reynoso said.
“There are far too many things that can go wrong,” Hart concluded. “The consequences particularly at this fragile moment are extraordinarily momentous.”
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is concerned that an uptick in COVID-19 cases could result from Halloween gatherings and celebrations.