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In order to provide equitable vaccine access to farmworkers, like those pictured working at Rancho Guadalupe in Santa Maria on Feb. 2, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will offer first vaccine doses to 500 members of the workforce in Santa Maria on Sunday. 

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is partnering with community organizations to launch a vaccine pilot program on Sunday for hundreds of local agricultural workers as officials works to expand care to disadvantaged populations. 

While agricultural workers and other individuals in Phase 1B are not officially eligible to receive the vaccine until Monday, 500 workers will be able to receive their first dose in Santa Maria the day prior, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) spokeswoman Rebeca Garcia said. 

Leading up to the event, community organizations and agricultural leaders offered appointments directly to local workers, eventually booking up all 500 appointments, Garcia said.

"CAUSE was able to register 105 farmworkers for this upcoming Sunday," Garcia said. "We are excited for this pilot [vaccination] clinic to launch so we can continue improving our efforts to make this experience more comfortable." 

At the clinic, nine interpreters will be available to provide translation in indigenous languages, and community organizations will be present to distribute further resources for farmworkers, she said. 

Other Phase 1B groups eligible for the vaccine beginning Monday include teachers, child care professionals and emergency service personnel. 

Weekend testing opportunities 

Beginning this weekend, free, walk-up COVID-19 testing will be available every Saturday at the Santa Maria Health Center kiosk, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced Thursday.

Testing at the outdoor kiosk in the parking lot will be available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday, with no appointment or out-of-pocket cost required, according to the department. 

The Santa Maria Health Center is located at 2115 S. Centerpointe Parkway. During the work week, testing at the site is also available by appointment from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. 

Registration for weekday appointments at the site is available online via book.appointment-plus.com, or by calling the Public Health Department assistance line at 211. 

For more information about COVID-19 testing locations and appointments in Santa Barbara County, visit publichealthsbc.org/testing.

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Daily COVID-19 cases

Santa Barbara County has passed 400 total deaths from COVID-19, after nine new deaths were confirmed between Wednesday and Thursday, the county Public Health Department reported

The county also reported 85 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, followed by 53 cases on Thursday. In total, 31,763 cases have been confirmed and 422 cases remain active. 

Of the nine new deaths, six were individuals over the age of 70 and three were between the ages of 50 and 69, with seven residing in Santa Barbara, one in Lompoc and one in Orcutt. Six also died in connection with a COVID-19 outbreak at a congregate care facility, according to county public health data

As of Thursday, 83 county residents are hospitalized for COVID-19, including 19 in the intensive care unit, according to county data.

In Santa Maria, 124 out of 10,713 total cases remain active and 147 individuals have died.

In Orcutt, 20 out of 1,664 total cases remain active and 25 individuals have died.

In Lompoc, 42 out of 3,321 total cases remain active and 42 individuals have died.

In the Santa Ynez Valley area of Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez and Ballard, 14 out of 939 total cases remain active and 17 individuals have died.

In the North County area of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and Guadalupe, 10 out of 1,224 total cases remain active and 20 individuals have died.

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department reported 82 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, followed by 30 new cases and six deaths from the illness on Thursday.

In total, 19,612 cases have been confirmed in the county, with 575 cases still active and contagious, according to county public health data.

As of Thursday, 227 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the county. 

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