Santa Barbara County is on the brink of additional closures — prohibiting outdoor dining and shutting down salons — under a new regional stay-at-home order that could take effect as soon as this weekend for most counties across the state.
The stay-at-home order will go into place for regions where the ICU bed capacity drops to 15% or below, requiring a three-week closure of casinos, bars, wineries, playgrounds and personal care services, including nail and hair salons and body art, in those areas, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Retail still will be allowed to operate at limited capacity, along with critical infrastructure and schools that already have received approval to reopen, according to the state.
The biggest changes under the new order will be felt by businesses in the personal care sector, who have fought to stay open throughout the course of the pandemic, and restaurants, which will have to cease outdoor dining and only offer takeout and delivery.
Sheila Gibilisco, owner of full-service salon and spa InSPArations in Santa Maria, said she is extremely frustrated by the latest hit to hair stylists and others in the personal care sector.
"It's really frustrating, because I know in my building where I'm working right now is safe for clients. If it wasn't safe, I wouldn't have clients come in," she said.
Due to the restrictions around the number of appointments she can make and the effects of closures earlier in the pandemic, business has dropped around 50%, Gibilisco said.
"I don't plan on closing," she added. "And I'm not alone."
Counties have been divided into five regions — Northern California, the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Santa Barbara County falls within the Southern California region, which also encompasses Ventura, San Luis Obispo, San Diego, Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, according to the state.
As of Thursday, none of the five regions qualify for the order, according to Newsom. However, all regions except the Bay Area are likely to to reach the threshold in the next couple of days, with some public health officials anticipating the news to come by Friday.
"We are likely in our region to see the stay-at-home order take effect as soon as tomorrow," San Luis Obispo County Health Officer Penny Borenstein said Thursday, referring to the Southern California region.
Businesses will have 48 hours to implement changes, according to the state, and residents will be asked to remain in their homes except for essential activities like getting groceries or food, exercising, walking the dog, or safely recreating outdoors. Gatherings and travel are prohibited.
While Santa Barbara County's own ICU capacity is still far from reaching the 15% threshold, counties like Los Angeles, where about 122 ICU beds for COVID-19 patients reportedly remain empty, are likely to drive the region toward that outcome.
As of Thursday, the region's remaining ICU capacity is 20.6%, according to the California Department of Public Health.
In Santa Barbara County, 61% of ICU beds are in use, with 22% occupied specifically by COVID-19 patients. Overall COVID-19 hospitalizations have nearly doubled over the past week, with the number of ICU patients tripling, according to county public health data.
Daily COVID-19 cases
Along with the announcement of a looming stay-at-home order, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported an additional 134 COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
The total number of cases in the county is now 11,845, with 428 cases still considered active and contagious, according to county data.
In the city of Santa Maria, 112 out of 4,717 total cases remain active. Seventy-five individuals have died.
In the community of Orcutt, 28 out of 525 total cases remain active. Six individuals have died.
In the city of Lompoc, 71 out of 1,188 total cases remain active. Nine individuals have died.
In the Santa Ynez Valley, which includes the areas of Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez and Ballard, 22 out of 252 total cases remain active. Seven individuals have died.
In the unincorporated North County area, which includes Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and Guadalupe, 16 out of 521 total cases remain active. Seven individuals have died.
The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department reported an additional 81 COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
A total of 6,459 COVID-19 cases now have been confirmed in San Luis Obispo County, with 785 cases still considered active.