Santa Barbara County Public Health officials said Saturday evening that four more people have tested positive for COVID-19, making it 13 total confirmed cases.
One is a South County resident in their 20s, one is a North County resident in their 60s, and two are South County residents in their 40s, Public Health Department spokeswoman Jackie Ruiz said in a statement.
No further details were released, including their medical conditions. Of the previous nine positive local cases, none of the patients was serious enough to be hospitalized.
Public Health staff members are investigating how each of these four new cases contracted COVID-19, Ruiz said.
As of Saturday, the county had tested 214 people with 13 positive results, 66 negative results and the rest pending. The delay in results is a symptom of the long turnaround time from laboratories.
Also on Saturday, officials announced that an emergency shelter for people without homes is open at Santa Maria High School, 901 S Broadway, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The entrance is Gate 12 off of Stowell Street.
At a Friday briefing, Dr. Henning Ansorg, the public health officer for Santa Barbara County, said there is now widespread community transmission within the county.
“This means we can no longer hope that the Santa Barbara area will be spared by this virus. The only option we have to slow down the spread of the virus is really social distancing, aside from practicing good hand hygiene and the like,” he said.
Everyone should take this pandemic seriously regardless of their age, he added.
Even people with mild symptoms — a sore throat, cough, runny nose, fever — are asked to “take self-isolation to another level” and stay by themselves at home for at least seven days, Ansorg said. More guidance on what to do when you feel sick, and home care during self-isolation, is available on the COVID-19 Public Health Department website here.
Health care providers created testing criteria since the capacity is very limited, locally and nationally. The fastest results come from tests sent to public health laboratories as of Saturday, and those spots are reserved for symptomatic health care workers and residential facility patients, according to the county.
“Mandated social distancing measures are in place to slow the spread of the virus. All large nonessential professional, social, and community gatherings should be postponed or
cancelled, and smaller gatherings should be modified to allow for at least 6 feet of space between participants,” Public Health officials said.
Getting outside for exercise is allowed — and encouraged — as long as people still practice social distancing, they said.
Recommended measures to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses include: wash your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; stay away from people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms such as a fever and cough; and keep surfaces clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.
Public Health orders, and the statewide “shelter-at-home” order, closed bars, nightclubs, and wine and beer tasting rooms, and then expanded to other “nonessential” businesses.
On Saturday, two days after the statewide order went into effect, many downtown Santa Barbara restaurants remained open, offering to-go options for their food, and some breweries did as well. Most retail stores had closed their doors.
Santa Barbara’s downtown core and waterfront were less busy than usual, but still had many pedestrians and bicyclists out and about.
The Funk Zone, where there is a concentration of wine tasting rooms, breweries and bars, was largely deserted since the establishments were nearly all closed.