By Raiza Giorgi


Santa Barbara County Public Health officials reported the 8th death due to COVID-19 on Wednesday, April 29. This person was in their 60’s and from Santa Maria, and had preexisting conditions which contributed to their death, according to public health. 

The total case count went up by eight to 485, said Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso. 

Of the 485 cases, 360 have fully recovered; 81 are recovering at home; 33 are in the hospital with 11 in the ICU. 

There have been a total of 4374 tests done with 3886 testing negative and 485 positive. That is a 11 percent positivity rate and with the 8 deaths that is a .0018 fatality rate of those tested, according to current public health data. 

There will be expanded access to nasal swab testing for the pandemic disease at a new site in Santa Maria starting May 4, Do-Reynoso said. She said that community members can start screening to determine eligibility later this week, and more information will be forthcoming by the end of week. 

“This location in Santa Maria is the first of three community-based testing sites that will cycle through Santa Barbara County,” Do-Reynoso said.

Additional sites will be in Lompoc and Santa Barbara in the coming weeks, according to Do-Reynoso said,

“Testing will be conducted by appointments only, provided at no out-of-pocket costs and all community members are welcome to be screened for testing,” she said. 

Testing appointments will be available for health care workers, first responders, essential workers and people with symptoms that match those of coronavirus, with test results given within 48 hours, Do-Reynoso added. 

Plasma has also started to be gathered from people who have recovered from COVID-19 in hopes it could be used to help others who are fighting the virus, said Dr. Stewart Comer, lab director for Public Health. 

Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria can perform local recruitment of plasma from convalescent COVID-19 patients, and a similar program is operated at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital

Recovered coronavirus patients can call Marian Regional Medical Center at 805-739-3333 ext. 2272, and Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital by calling 805-569-7818.

The county officials also talked about the financial impacts of COVID-19 as many people are out of work and on unemployment. Several have reached out to the Star that they have yet to receive any assistance for their businesses and/or haven’t received unemployment. 

Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart stated anyone that hasn’t received any benefits should reach out to the state legislative representatives Monique Limon (; Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson ( and Congressman Salad Carbajal ( 

“Millions of people are applying for the same benefits and if someone hasn’t heard in several weeks, you need to reach out to the Employment Development Department (