Michael Camacho-Craft, health center administrator at the Santa Maria Health Care Center, located at 2115 S. Centerpointe Parkway, demonstrates the less-intrusive COVID-19 tests that were administered at the location in November 2020.  

Rising COVID-19 case rates are keeping Santa Barbara County trapped in the state's restrictive purple tier for a second week, as state officials continue their focus on stopping the spread of the virus throughout the state.

Santa Barbara County was forced to regress into the most restrictive reopening phase on Nov. 16, after being in the second phase — the red tier — for over two months. 

While the county grew closer to the orange tier — the third reopening tier —during those months, the sudden move back to the purple tier stopped that progress short. 

“We are continuing to face significant upticks in our local cases, and beginning to see increases in our hospitalizations. Very quickly, we have seen our metrics approach the orange tier metrics and, then, suddenly revert back to purple tier levels,” said county Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso.  

The return to the purple tier has restricted indoor operations at theaters, restaurants, places of worship and gyms once again, and limited indoor capacity at retail stores. 

In order to move into the red tier and resume indoor operations at these sectors, the county will need to remain in the purple tier for at least three weeks and meet red tier metrics for two consecutive weeks. 

According to Tuesday metric data shared by the state Blueprint for a Safer Economy, Santa Barbara County's case rate per 100,000 people has risen from 7.1 to 7.3 over the past week, just above the needed red tier rate of 7. 

However, these rates were adjusted downward as a reward for high levels of COVID-19 testing in the county. Unadjusted, the county's case rate for this week is 9.9, according to state data. 

The county's positivity rate, which measures the percentage of COVID-19 tests that yield positive results, remain within the range of the orange tier at 3.2%, according to state data. 

Around 95% of California's population currently lives in a county that resides within the purple tier, according to state data. 

Daily COVID-19 cases 

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed an additional 233 COVID-19 cases between Sunday and Tuesday, with two deaths as a result of the virus also reported during that time. 

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Of the 233 cases, 79 were reported Sunday, 54 were reported Monday and 100 were confirmed on Tuesday, according to county data. 

While cases for the weekend are normally reported by the county on Monday, data for Sunday and Monday was delayed due to maintenance of the state reporting system, Public Health officials said. 

The total number of cases in the county is now 11,166, with 399 cases still considered active and contagious. 

Two more COVID-19 deaths were confirmed on Monday. Both individuals were over the age of 70 and had underlying medical conditions, according to county data. One of the individuals was from Lompoc and the other was from Santa Maria.

The total number of deaths in the county is now 135.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county have increased slightly, with 20 individuals currently hospitalized, including five individuals in the ICU. 

In the city of Santa Maria, 115 out of 4,520 total cases remain active. Seventy-three individuals have died.

In the community of Orcutt, 25 out of 478 total cases remain active. Six individuals have died.

In the city of Lompoc, 46 out of 1,086 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, 10 out of 222 total cases remain active. Seven individuals have died.

In the unincorporated North County area, which includes Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and Guadalupe, four out of 501 total cases remain active. Seven individuals have died.