By Raiza Giorgi


Last week Santa Barbara County Public Health officials were optimistic that Santa Barbara County was coming even closer to being off the state’s monitoring list, but were then blindsided with news that Governor Gavin Newsom’s new color-coded system put the county back in the highest level. 

“The new metric is sudden and complex and we are working on how we share the data to the public. We were on a call with the state Wednesday and Thursday evenings and this morning. We have a weak credit of being in the ‘red’ zone for two more weeks before we can move into the red,” said Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, Public Health Director. 

The new color-coded system announced Friday, will now determine whether each county can reopen based on the number of cases and positive tests. Currently Santa Barbara County is in the ‘purple’ zone, which means the most widespread cases for transmission of COVID-19. The county is wo

A county is considered in the purple “widespread” tier, meaning more than seven cases per 100,000 people; the red “substantial” tier is between four and seven cases; the orange “moderate” tier if it has between 1 and 3.9 cases; and the yellow “minimal” zone if it has below one case.

Santa Barbara’s case rate stands at nine per 100,000 people, and the positivity test rate is 6.5 percent. The Santa Ynez Valley has had the least amount of cases in all the areas of the county with 113 positive and 11 ‘active’ cases as of Friday’s press briefing. There have been two deaths in the valley, and only the communities of Isla Vista and Gaviota have had less with one death. 

Currently there have been a total of 8,014 positive cases with 67 new ones on Friday including one death from a person in Santa Maria in their 70’s with underlying conditions. 

Public health officials have been hopeful as the number of cases have dropped, as well as the number of hospitalizations as there are only 40 in the hospital, which hasn’t been seen since June. The number in the ICU have also dropped to 21, which is positive news according to Do-Reynoso.

She added that another positive will be that hair salons and barbershops will be able to reopen indoor services early next week and they will be releasing a new health order this weekend with details.

Dr. Henning Ansorg also added that 13 schools have applied for the in-person instruction waiver on elementary school campuses, with 12 of those being private schools and one public school.

“We have been very pleased with the downward trend over the past week and the restrictions for beach access for the Labor Day weekend should also prevent mixing and mingling,” Ansorg said.

County beaches will be limited to movement activities such as walking, running, swimming, surfing and other activities, however sitting and relaxing type activities will not be permitted to prevent people from congregating.

Testing services are going to be moving in South County from Earl Warren Showgrounds to the Goleta Valley Community Center, Do-Reynoso said. She added that there are many appointments available at the Buellton American Medical Response (AMR) Central Training Center, 240 E. Hwy 246, Suite 110.