By Raiza Giorgi
Santa Barbara County officials declared a state of emergency and a proclamation of social distancing to start effective immediately in order to combat the rate of spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) until March 30. While there are still no confirmed cases in the county, officials were adamant they are prepared to handle the infection.
The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, and the California Department of Public Health mandated that large gatherings of 250 or more people should be postponed or cancelled at least through the end of March, including concerts, conferences, and some sporting events.
Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP of Santa Barbara County Public Health said that children are not being as effected from this illness, and closing the schools would only create more burden on the community.
“All schools should have a robust plan with frequent cleaning and small size classes, staggering events like school hours and recess and activities that are not mandatory be canceled,” Ansorg added.
Santa Barbara County Supervisor Greg Hart said the county government is doing everything to prepare for and respond to the coronavirus and are acting in the best interest of the community.
“Testing has been expanded to 17 labs in California including San Luis Obispo and Ventura and added two commercial labs. It’s important to know there has to be certain criteria to be tested to prioritize those who are at risk,” said Paige Batson, Deputy Director for Community Health for the county.
County officials said that they will be deploying 12 hand washing stations around various locations in the county and will have more information on that Friday.
There was no information on the individuals who had been tested already, only that five of the six suspected cases came from South County.
Currently there are nine cases being monitored, in which those people are in self-isolation for a 14-day period with public health supervision.