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Two additional COVID-19 deaths confirmed at Santa Maria skilled nursing facility
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Two additional COVID-19 deaths confirmed at Santa Maria skilled nursing facility

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department on Friday confirmed the deaths of two individuals with COVID-19, both over 70 years old, as well as 75 additional cases of the virus in the county.

The two individuals who died resided at a Santa Maria skilled nursing facility experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, according to the county Public Health Department.

The department did not clarify whether the residents were from Country Oaks Care Facility, where 10 have died as a result of the virus.

“Our hearts go out to those mourning loved ones lost to COVID-19. Please wear face coverings, and stay at least 6 feet away from others. It’s important if someone thinks they could be positive and are waiting for test results, to stay at home and act as if they are positive for COVID-19. We all need to protect each other right now,” said Dr. Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer.

Of the 32 deaths in the county, 18 have occurred in Santa Maria. At least 16 of the county's deaths are connected to outbreaks at skilled nursing facilities. 

The county's total case count is now 3,931, with 90% of cases recovered. 

Seventy-five individuals confirmed for the virus are now hospitalized, a drop from yesterday's highest rate yet of 80. Of these 75, a total of 23 are in the ICU, according to county data.

Testing 

As wait times for state-offered COVID-19 tests in the county rise to nearly two weeks in some areas, Public Health officials continue to encourage the public not to seek testing unless they truly need it.

According to Nick Clay, county EMS Agency Director, the county's messaging has changed since the opening of the state testing sites, from offering tests to everyone to reserving tests for those who need them.

"We are seeing a high number of missed appointments. This issue, combined with a rise in cases, prompted us to change our message from 'want to get tested' to 'need to get tested,'" Clay said. 

He added that missed appointments are especially frustrating since the wait is so long for testing.

"If you have made an appointment and are unable to make it for any reason, please cancel so others may use that slot," Clay said. 

Officials have asked that only those who work in a high-risk environment, essential workers, and those who have had close contact with a confirmed case seek testing.

According to Clay, close contact means contact with someone confirmed for the virus who wasn't wearing a mask, indoors, less than six feet apart and for at least 15 minutes. 

According to Dr. Stewart Comer, director of Pacific Diagnostic Laboratories in Santa Barbara, 53,795 tests have now been run in the county, a huge increase from 37,000 tests just two weeks ago. 

COVID-19 cases

Of the 75 additional cases confirmed Friday, 31 were in Santa Maria, 18 were in Santa Barbara, and 11 were in Lompoc. A handful of new cases were also confirmed in every region besides the City of Goleta, according to county data.

Santa Maria's total case count is now 1,628, with 172 cases still active. Eighteen residents have died. 

In the community of Orcutt, 113 cases have been confirmed with 10 still active. No deaths have been confirmed in the region.

The city of Lompoc has seen 216 cases with 22 still active. Four deaths have been confirmed. 

In the Santa Ynez Valley, 32 cases have been confirmed with eight still active. No deaths have been confirmed.

The Federal Penitentiary in Lompoc has seen a total of 998 cases with one still active. Four deaths have occurred. 

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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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