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Coronavirus roundup: Santa Barbara County closes beaches, announces 111 new cases

Coronavirus roundup: Santa Barbara County closes beaches, announces 111 new cases

Santa Barbara County mandates beach closures for Fourth of July weekend, reversing earlier decision

All Santa Barbara County beaches will be closed over the Fourth of July weekend to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Santa Barbara County Health Department announced Thursday in a reversal of a decision earlier this week. 

Per the new county health order, the mandate goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday and lasts through 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

Although county officials declared Tuesday that beach closures would not be mandated, their position changed after seeing other counties decide to close their beaches, according to Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg. 

“The temporary closure of all beaches is necessary due to the anticipated high volume of people at our beaches during the July 4th weekend, which will impede the practice of safe and necessary social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County,” Ansorg said.

The beach closure was the second health order released by the county Thursday, with the first mandating the closure of dine-in services at restaurants and indoor operations in other sectors. 

Santa Barbara County confirms 111 additional COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County have risen rapidly over the last week, with Thursday's report of 111 additional cases continuing the trend as public health officials attempt to curb the growth with sweeping closures.

A total of 3,261 cases now have been confirmed in the county, including 994 cases located at the Federal Penitentiary in Lompoc, which are counted separately from community cases.

A total of 374 community cases remain active, with no active cases remaining at the Lompoc prison, according to county data. 

A total of 64 individuals are currently hospitalized, with 20 of these individuals in the ICU. 

In Santa Maria, 1,275 cases now have been confirmed, with 220 still active. Fifteen deaths have been reported, including 10 among residents at Country Oaks Care Center. 

The community of Orcutt has seen 81 cases with nine still active. No residents have died.

In Lompoc, 161 cases have been identified, with 15 still active. Four residents have died.

In Santa Ynez Valley, 21 cases have been reported with one still active. No residents have died. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Department also added new COVID-19 metric data, breaking down the number of cases at skilled nursing facilities, as well as statistics describing the mode of transmission.

According to county Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso, the metric data suggests that 55% of cases result from person-to-person transmission while 45% result from community transmission. Only 1% thus far are the result of travel, she said.

COVID-19 death announced Monday confirmed to be Country Oaks Care Center resident

A COVID-19 death announced earlier in the week was a resident at Country Oaks Care Center, bringing the nursing facility's death total to 10 residents, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed Thursday. 

When the death was announced Monday, the department described a Santa Maria resident over the age of 70 but did not clarify whether the individual was a resident of the care facility. 

According to department spokeswoman Jackie Ruiz, the department was not aware when announcing the death that the individual was another Country Oaks resident.

The COVID-19 outbreak at the facility, first discovered a month ago, has infected 30 residents and 28 staff members, in addition to killing 10 residents, according to county data. 

Outbreaks among residents, staff or both have been identified at 10 total care facilities in the county, according to metric data. 

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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