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Santa Barbara County calls for volunteers, more staff to help COVID-19 response
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Santa Barbara County calls for volunteers, more staff to help COVID-19 response

Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is looking for volunteers and new staff people to help expand the COVID-19 response as testing increases and contact tracing efforts ramp up.

Health officials said the positions to be filled will allow some individuals to work remotely, while others will be out working in the community.

People are needed to work as contact tracers, investigators and interviewers, drivers, outreach workers and nurses as the county prepares to meet state response and containment plans needed to accelerate reopening the county economy.

On Tuesday, County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato said a new requirement in the governor’s criteria for the containment plan requires the county’s contact tracing teams to reflect the cultural diversity of the county population.

“That’s something we have to check, along with whether the testing sites are within 30 minutes of populations,” Miyasato said.

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Public Health Department Director Van Do-Reynoso noted her department already has four core contact tracing teams in place and will soon have 30 new contact tracers to reflect the ethnic diversity in the county.

But she said more will be needed as a back-up labor force should the county need to ramp up its tracing efforts.

When someone comes down with COVID-19 or tests positive for novel coronavirus, contact tracers try to find out who that person has had contact with and might have given the person the virus or been infected by the person.

Investigators and interviewers assist with that process in determining how and where individuals became infected.

Contacts are also traced when there are outbreaks, which can be more time-consuming.

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“We’re tracking six outbreaks, or at least we have identified six outbreaks,” Do-Reynoso said, defining outbreaks as two or more persons at the same address coming down with COVID-19 within 14 days.

Those applying to help are not required to have previous training, but clinical degrees or bilingual abilities will be required for certain positions.

“We encourage our community to apply for these COVID-19 response opportunities to assist their own neighbors in the fight against this virus,” Do-Reynoso said. “Whether you have a background in a particular health-related field or you’re looking for a way to serve your community, Santa Barbara County needs you.”

Those interested in working or volunteering with the Public Health Department can complete an interest form by visiting https://publichealthsbc.org/volunteering-and-donations/.

The website also lists ways people can help organizations with their efforts, including by making face masks for the Coastal Quilters Guild of Santa Barbara and Goleta and through the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade’s contest to see who can make the most masks.

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Other information on the site includes how to donate personal protective equipment, along with the type of equipment needed, and a link to Santa Barbara County Food Rescue, which is coordinating food resources.

More information on Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 response is available at www.publichealthsbc.org.

Coronavirus Series: Local impact and reaction to COVID-19 on the Central Coast

We are working hard to get answers about the impact and reaction to the coronavirus in Santa Barbara County, this is a collection of those stories. Do you have a question about coronavirus in Santa Barbara County? The Santa Maria Times news staff will work to answer your questions. Post them to our Facebook page, or email MCooley@SantaMariaTimes.com.  You can support the work of local journalists working hard in your hometown by signing up for a News+ Membership online

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County Reporter/Associate Editor

Lee Central Coast Newspapers associate editor Mike Hodgson covers Santa Barbara County government and events and issues in Santa Ynez Valley. Follow him on Twitter @MHodgsonSYVNews.

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The following is taken from the Santa Maria Police Department's calls-for-service log and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office daily arrest log. Those appearing as "arrested" are only suspected of the crime indicated but are presumed innocent.

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