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Despite reaching red tier, Santa Barbara County dealing with difficulties

State Street March 2020
Alex Zauner/NC3
For the first time since the fall, Santa Barbara County reached the state’s red reopening tier this week.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — It’s been quite some time since Santa Barbara County reached the state’s red reopening tier. 

This week we witnessed restaurants, museums and gyms reopen indoors for the first time since the fall.

The step in the right direction also gave secondary schools the green light to come back to the classroom.

“We are enjoying the opening of various businesses and places in our county,” public health director Van Do-Reynoso said.

Vaccine distribution has also picked up the pace with an all-hands-on-deck effort.

“Week after week, we continue to see a very high percentage of vaccines being administered,” Do-Reynoso said. 

“The public health department, along with our health care partners are doing whatever we can do to get the vaccine to everybody who wants it as quickly as possible,” public health officer Henning Ansorg added.

Youth sports are now in full swing countywide.

However, this has brought about some new challenges as all athletes and coaches — playing football and water polo — are required to take COVID-19 tests each week.

Tonight, the Big Game between Santa Barbara and San Marcos was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test result.

“Over the last week, we have seen many positive cases from athletes of multiple schools,” Ansorg said. “This is concerning to us.”

When it comes to the amount of fans in the stands, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department won’t be enforcing the state’s one person per athlete rule.

Allowing only immediate household members to observe youth sporting events.

“We reviewed the state’s guidance,” Do-Reynoso said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t make sense to us either.”

As coronavirus cases continue dropping down, local health experts have their eyes aimed on reaching the less restrictive orange tier.

“If we stop with masking and distancing too early, we could easily risk another surge in cases,” Ansorg concluded.

Today spring break started for many public schools that just reopened. 

So the next week will be a true test, to see how these students fair when they come back to the classroom.

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist at NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.

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