Santa Barbara County Health prepares for possible second wave of COVID-19

Santa Barbara County Health prepares for possible second wave of COVID-19

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — As a second wave of the coronavirus has begun sweeping through other states in the country, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is concerned it may return in full force this fall.

“That is exactly the nightmare scenario for a situation like this, that people congregate at hot spots,” public health officer Henning Ansorg said.

With Halloween and Thanksgiving approaching, county officials are encouraging people to avoid traveling this holiday season. 

The state has also started allowing some gatherings, but Santa Barbara County is not allowing it under the current health order, and won’t allow it for at least two more weeks to help hold virus numbers down.

“We do not want to jeopardize the progress we’ve made moving from the purple to red tier,” second district supervisor Gregg Hart said.

Public health officials are also nervous about the Halloween events coming up and what that could mean in certain communities such as Isla Vista.

“I am worried with Halloween coming up in a few weeks that we may see new cases due to gatherings and celebrations,” public health director Van Do-Reynoso said.

“Trick-or-treating in the traditional way is a very real public health threat that should not be ignored,” Hart said.

The county health department is still dealing with a severe outbreak at the Santa Maria Post Acute facility, where a vast majority of residents have been infected with the virus.

“The good news is that more than half of them are through the isolation period and have recovered,” Ansorg said.

Over the past two weeks, more than 3,700 people participated in the county’s flu shot clinics. 

“We must remember the continued threat of a ‘twin-demic’, Hart said. “The spread of both the seasonal influenza and COVID-19.”

Despite 9,560 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County — including 119 deaths — more than 90% of residents are still at risk of catching the virus.

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