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Santa Barbara County confirms 19 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death; metrics meet red tier requirements
Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County confirms 19 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death; metrics meet red tier requirements

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed an additional 19 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday along with one death as a result of the illness. 

In total, the number of confirmed cases in the county is now 9,520, with 130 cases still considered active and contagious, according to county public health data

The deceased individual reported Wednesday was a Santa Maria resident between the ages of 50-69 living with underlying health conditions, according to county data. The individual did not die in association with a COVID-19 outbreak at a congregate living facility. 

The death is the 117th in the county overall and the 64th in Santa Maria. 

A total of 21 individuals are hospitalized for COVID-19, including seven in the ICU, according to county data. 

In the city of Santa Maria, 45 out of 4,064 cases remain active. 

In the community of Orcutt, eight out of 347 cases remain active. Three individuals have died.

In the city of Lompoc, 15 out of 896 cases remain active. Eight individuals have died.

In the Santa Ynez Valley, which includes the areas of Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez and Ballard, 10 out of 172 cases remain active. Seven individuals have died. 

COVID-19 metrics

Santa Barbara County continues to meet metrics necessary to remain in the red tier, the current reopening phase, according to Tuesday COVID-19 data from the state.

In order to meet metrics for the upcoming orange tier, the county needs to lower its overall case positivity rate, which can be achieved partially by increasing testing. The county can advance after two weeks of meeting these metrics.

Santa Barbara County's case rate per 100,000 people as of Tuesday is 4.3, which was adjusted down to 4.2 as a result of the county's high testing rate.

The county's overall positivity rate, which measures the percentage of total tests that yield positive results, is 2.4%, and the equity metric, or the positivity rate specifically among neighborhoods in the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index, is 5%. 

Under the state's equity metrics requirement, counties must designate resources towards lowering COVID-19 positivity rates among their most underserved neighborhoods in order to advance between tiers.

In Santa Barbara County, the lowest quartile includes 11 neighborhoods in Santa Maria, one in Guadalupe, four in Lompoc, two in Santa Barbara and three in Isla Vista, according to county officials. 

Meanwhile, high case rates have neighboring San Luis Obispo County in danger of being moved back into the more restrictive purple tier, officials warned Wednesday. 

Recent large daily increases in cases have brought the county's case rate per 100,000 up to 7.1, violating the requirements of the red tier. However, high testing rates have brought the figure down to 6.1, keeping the county safe for the time being. 

"If we exceed a case count of 7 per 100,000 per day ... and our number gets high enough that even with our testing volume adjustment, we land on that metric, then we would revert to purple after two weeks of that situation," said Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County Health Officer. 

If the county were to revert to the previous phase, business sectors including theaters, gyms, restaurants and tattoo parlors would have to cease indoor operations once more. 

"What we want is for everyone to do their part with all the protection measures that will allow us to drive our number down," Borenstein said. 

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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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