By Raiza Giorgi

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will not move forward in reopening expanded personal care service industries at this time due to a concern over higher COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations, according to Dr. Henning Ansorg, Health Officer for Santa Barbara County. 

“We are striking a balance and everyone has to play their part to reduce the spread, COVID-19 is still very much a threat. The stay at home order is still in place and important,” Ansorg said at Friday’s press briefing. 

The increase in recent hospitalizations coupled with ongoing increases in COVID-19 positive cases have led to the County’s decision to pause reopening. 

Personal Care Services that must remain closed include, but are not limited to:

  • Estheticians
  • Skin Care and Cosmetology services
  • Electrology (permanent hair removal)
  • Nail Salons
  • Body Art Professionals
  • Tattoo Parlors
  • Piercing Shops
  • Massage Therapy (including non-healthcare settings)
  • Businesses offering facials, electrolysis, and waxing

“Out of an abundance of caution and for the safety of all community members, particularly our most vulnerable, Public Health leadership has decided to hold on further reopening,” shared Ansorg. “We urge all residents to take this time to evaluate how they can limit their exposure to people outside their homes. This virus will continue to spread unless we take action to stop it.” 

There have been 67 new cases since Thursday, bringing the total positive cases to 2,319, per the county’s status report. There are 306 active cases with241 of those recovering at home, 65 in the hospitals and 17 in ICU. There have been 22 reported deaths attributed to COVID-19, however the county has still not given actual data regarding exact causes of death. Ansorg has said repeatedly that due to HIPAA privacy laws they cannot, however the Star keeps questioning as the underlying causes are important for the community to know. 

Ansorg has said that commonalities in the cases in the hospital are underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity, chronic lung disease and people in the 50’s and 60’s have a higher percentage of infection rates. 

The Star questioned if the higher positivity rates were associated with any of the reopening rallies or the Black Lives Matter rallies, but Ansorg said exact cause and affects are impossible to trace. He said it appeared most infections occur at work or at home when a person is exposed for longer duration of time. 

The Santa Ynez Valley has had 16 total cases, with 12 of those fully recovered. 

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown reported since nine Sheriff custody deputies tested positive, there have been an additional four today with two inmates also testing positive. 

“We have plans in place to manage this outbreak and address the increases. All staff assigned to the jail are being testing and as of noon today, 114 have been done with more in the coming days,” Brown said.

He said the two inmates have been put in medical isolation, and they are continuing to screen and keep all new inmates separated with 14 days and jail visitation is suspended. 

Friday also marks 100 days since the start of the Stay At Home Order, according to Suzanne Grimmesey of Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness. 

Screening and appointments are available between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Solvang Veteran’s Memorial Hall. Those who wish to make an appointment can visit or call 888-634-1123. The test costs will be billed to health insurance, or will be free.