Santa Barbara County Public Health Department
It’s here. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The first confirmed case of novel coronavirus in Santa Barbara County was announced Sunday afternoon by the county Public Health Department.

The patient, a North County resident, does not have any underlying health conditions, the department said in a statement.

“The individual is recovering in isolation at home until cleared by the Public Health officer,” the statement said. “PHD is taking steps to identify persons who may have had close contact with this person, including friends, family members or health-care professionals.”

The patient has no history of travel within or outside the United States in the last six weeks, and it appears that the case of COVID-19 is one of community transmission, the department said.

“The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has been actively preparing to ensure that we have a structure in place to effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our county,” said Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s health officer.

“At this time we are mandating social distancing measures to slow the spread of the virus. All large nonessential professional, social and community gatherings should be postponed or canceled, and smaller gatherings should be modified to allow for at least six feet of space between participants.”

Public Health Department spokeswoman Jackie Ruiz told Noozhawk she could not provide information about where the patient lives, although there have been unconfirmed reports it is a male resident of Orcutt.

5 UCSB Students Placed on Quarantine

In related news, the Public Health Department announced that five UC Santa Barbara students have been placed in mandatory quarantine after recently coming into contact with someone in San Diego who later tested positive for COVID-19.

“The PHD’s Disease Control & Prevention team is directing a very thorough investigation of all contacts of quarantined residents,” the department said in statement. “All identified contacts of these individuals have been notified and are self-quarantined in their residences at this time.

“As a reminder, people under quarantine are healthy individuals who are known to have been exposed to someone with a potential communicable disease, in this case COVID-19. People under quarantine exhibiting symptoms will be tested for COVID-19.”

Health officials say no action needs to be taken by the general public at this time.

It was not immediately known if the UCSB students live in on-campus dorms or off-campus.

SBCC Shutting Down All Campus Operations

Santa Barbara City College announced Sunday afternoon that all in-person, on-campus operations were being suspended, effective Monday and continuing through March 29.

The closure applied to the Main, Schott and Wake campuses, as well as all off-campus sites, including the Cosmetology Academy, the Parent-Child Workshops and the Orfalea Early Learning Center.

All lecture instruction will be offered online-only for the remainder of the spring semester.

In-person lab instruction that is not online will be suspended until March 30. If a lab course is not online by that time, it will be canceled.

Instruction in the School of Extended Learning will be suspended through March 29. Courses that cannot be brought online by that time will be canceled.

Click here for the SBCC coronavirus webpage.

Chumash Casino Resort to Close

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians announced Sunday afternoon that the tribe was closing its Chumash Casino Resort due to concerns about COVID-19. The closure will last at least until the end of the month.

“We have been following the COVID-19 pandemic as it progresses, and have taken necessary precautions based on governmental guidance to protect our team members and guests,” said Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

“As uncertainty surrounding this threat escalates on an hourly basis, our tribe has decided to proceed with extreme caution and temporarily close the Chumash Casino Resort.”

During this projected closure, resort employees will remain compensated, he said.

Orcutt, Other Schools Closing Monday

Later Sunday afternoon, Orcutt Union School District officials announced that all campuses, including the learning center, would close Monday, two days earlier than previously planned, with others in the Santa Maria Valley also revising plans.

“We are optimistic that we will resume classroom instruction soon, but we will continue to evaluate what is best for our students, staff, and community,” the district said in a statement.

“During this time of school closures, we highly recommend that students and families continue to practice health and safety measures such as handwashing and social distancing. This school closure is put in place to help mitigate the spread of this virus and if our students and families congregate in groups, this can counteract these social distancing measures.”

The statement also urged families to use common-sense precautions to prevent the spread of infectious germs.

Closures were set to last through April 3.

Starting Monday, breakfast and lunch meals will be distributed at Lakeview Junior High, Orcutt Junior High and Patterson Road Elementary schools in Orcutt, and Olga Reed School in Los Alamos between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m, each day with walk-up and drive-through options.

Students 18 years of age and younger may pick up meals and then take them home. Meals cannot be eaten at school.

Click here for more information on the district’s COVID-19 webpage.

Officials with the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, Santa Maria-Bonita School District, Guadalupe Union School District and Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District announced plans to begin closures Monday, instead of Wednesday. For details click on the district names to access their websites with specific information for students, faculty and staff.

Newsom Urges Isolation for People 65 and Up

Gov. Gavin Newsom called for broad new restrictions throughout California, urging home isolation of everyone over age 65, a high-risk population group.

He also asked all bars, wine bars and tasting rooms, breweries, pubs and nightclubs to close, and called for restaurants to reduce their occupancy by half.

More information about COVID-19 and PHD’s response is available at or by calling the COVID-19 Call Center at 833.688.5551 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Click here for Noozhawk’s complete coronavirus coverage.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.