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Santa Maria tops 2,000 COVID-19 cases; 40 test positive in local H-2A housing outbreak

Santa Maria tops 2,000 COVID-19 cases; 40 test positive in local H-2A housing outbreak

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed 137 additional COVID-19 cases Friday, with case increases in Santa Maria bringing the city over the 2,000-case mark. 

The county also confirmed that 40 individuals have now tested positive for the virus in an ongoing outbreak at a Santa Maria H-2A housing facility first discovered earlier this week, with 14 initially confirmed for the virus. 

The total number of cases in the county among residents is now 3,752, with 394 cases still active. 

Cases have been confirmed in every part of the county with rates rapidly growing, public health officials warned.

"At this point, we now know we have widespread community transmission," said Lynn Fitzgibbons, an infectious disease doctor at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. "We are clearly seeing COVID-19 re-gaining momentum in our county." 

Not only are cases rising, but the virus is being spread chiefly through person-to-person contact, Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said. 

"In the past seven days, of the 526 cases we’ve interviewed, gatherings continue to be a significant issue," Do-Reynoso said.  "If you're somewhere where you cannot physically distance, you should not be there." 

Hospitalization rates remained where they were Thursday, with 81 individuals hospitalized and 27 in the ICU. 

H-2A housing outbreak

Testing has been ongoing for individuals living in H-2A housing in Santa Maria, where a COVID-19 outbreak was confirmed earlier this week. A total of 14 individuals tested positive as of Tuesday, with that number growing to 40 by Friday.

The housing area, provided by labor contractor Alco Harvesting, includes three different motels in the city that are accommodating the guest workers. 

According to Do-Reynoso, all 40 confirmed individuals are quarantined while they recover. One employee confirmed for the virus, who was living in one of the motels, has died. 

Alco is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor and Cal/OSHA as a result of the outbreak. 

COVID-19 local cases

Of the 2,099 cases confirmed in Santa Maria, 220 remain active. A total of 18 deaths have been confirmed.

The community of Orcutt has seen a total of 143 cases with 11 still active. No deaths have been confirmed in the area. 

The Santa Ynez Valley has confirmed a total of 51 cases with 10 still active, and no deaths in the area. 

In the city of Lompoc, 288 cases have been confirmed with 43 still active. Four residents have died.

The Federal Penitentiary in Lompoc has seen a total of 1,007 cases, with seven currently active. 

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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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