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Santa Barbara County confirms 12 new COVID-19 cases; rushes to redefine retail reopening criteria
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Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County confirms 12 new COVID-19 cases; rushes to redefine retail reopening criteria

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed 12 additional COVID-19 cases Monday bringing the total to 526, with 404 of the individuals now recovered.

The county's improving recovery rate has been mirrored throughout the state, encouraging Gov. Gavin Newsom to announce a new reopening timetable Monday with plans to ease restrictions on low-risk retail as early as May 8.

In response, county officials announced that members of the county's business recovery and reopening task force will be rushing this week to "very quickly redefine criteria" in the county's reopening plan for businesses.

Gov. Newsom identified low-risk retail such as sporting goods stores and bookstores for the next phase of reopening, with the caveat that modifications such as curbside and pickup services will need to be in place. 

The county's task force, comprised of public health officials, medical staff and business leaders, began discussing a business recovery plan based off state guidelines in late April, but has not completed a draft for the Board of Supervisors or the public to review. 

"We will be closely reviewing the criteria to be set forth by the governor this week.... to make final determinations on how best to move forward on his new timetable," 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart said at a Monday press conference. 

Hart added that the effort will be aided by information from the California Department of Public Health outlining specifics of the governor's retail reopening guidelines, to be announced by the governor's office Thursday.  

In preparation for further phases of reopening, Hart said the county has been tracking necessary indicators for meeting the governor's criteria, such as providing substantial testing and contact tracing processes, preparing county hospitals for potential surges, and establishing guidelines to protect vulnerable residents.  

Resuming surgeries 

While Santa Barbara County officials continue to craft a reopening plan for businesses and activities, hospitals and medical facilities have already received the green light from the governor's office to resume non-essential surgeries after meeting certain criteria.

Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria announced Monday that hospital staff are preparing to resume surgeries for the first time since they were suspended in March. 

According to hospital spokeswoman Sara San Juan, necessary criteria mandated by the Centers for Disease Control includes a sustained reduction of COVID-19 cases in the community, sufficient capacity of beds, medical equipment and personal protective equipment, and the ability to perform COVID-19 testing for all patients scheduling surgical procedures.

"Procedures will be gradually phased in, and we will closely monitor cases in our community. If we see an increase in cases, we will act quickly to reinstate restrictions on procedures," San Juan said. 

COVID-19 cases

Of the 122 active cases in Santa Barbara County, 65 individuals are recovering at home, 39 are hospitalized with 13 under intensive care, and 10 are pending status updates. 

Eight individuals have died, with deaths included in the county's roster of "active" cases. 

Of the 12 new cases announced Monday, three are individuals from Santa Barbara, seven are from Santa Maria, one is from Orcutt and one is from the unincorporated area of Goleta Valley and Gaviota. 

San Luis Obispo County confirmed one additional case Monday for a total of 202, of which 45 are considered still active.

The county experienced another small spike in cases over the weekend, with 11 confirmed cases between Saturday and Sunday bringing the county's total number over the 200-case mark.

Of the 45 active cases, 40 individuals are recovering at home, and five have been hospitalized. One county resident confirmed for the virus has died.

Infographic: San Luis Obispo County Coronavirus Cases

Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.

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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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