A Santa Barbara County jail employee takes a vistor’s temperature before entering as a precaution during the coronavirus pandemic.
A Santa Barbara County jail employee takes a vistor’s temperature at the entrance as a precaution during the coronavirus pandemic. (Contributed photo)

The number of confirmed coronavirus/COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County erupted by 15 on Friday — the largest single-day jump in the county since the pandemic began.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department said 47 people now have the virus.

Of the latest cases, one person is younger than 10 years old, and the oldest person is in their 70s.

The health department said that of the 15 new cases, two people are in Santa Maria, one is in the unincorporated area of the Goleta Valley, two are in Goleta, nine are in Santa Barbara and one is in the area of Montecito-Carpinteria-Summerland. All but two of the new cases were in the South County.

Five of the people who have contracted the virus are in the hospital, and two are in the intensive care unit. Another 31 people are recovering at home. Eleven have fully recovered.

“We are experiencing a significant uptick in new confirmed cases in the county,” said Dr. Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara County public health officer. “Fortunately, we have not had any fatalities from COVID-19.”

Ansorg said the rate of spread in China was reduced by strict social distancing and travel bans.

“We are well-advised to follow their example,” Ansorg said.

He urged people to wash their hands, practice good hygiene and limit commuting.

“Please stay close to your neighborhood,” he said. “This is the best protection for ourselves and our community.”

One of the confirmed coronavirus cases is a Santa Barbara County Jail contract employee. A WellPath employee was assigned to the jail through the Sheriff’s Office contract for inmate medical services, according to a news release.

Chart of cases information

(Santa Barbara County graphic)

The employee is a Ventura County resident. The individual interacted with some inmates and staff the day before becoming symptomatic, but had been consistently wearing personal protective equipment, including goggles, an N95 mask and a gown while at work. No additional staff or inmates were found to be symptomatic or suggested for self-isolation protocol. No inmates have tested positive nor are any in isolation related to COVID-19. 

Van Do-Reynoso, Santa Barbara County public health director, said the county is planning for a surge in hospital bed needs. Officials have a weekend meeting planned, and next week they plan to announce a model for dealing with potential hospital bed capacity. 

“Surge capacity is something that we are doing,” Do-Reynoso said. 

The afternoon media event was moderated by Santa Barbara County Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart, who praised people’s efforts to comply with social distancing rules. 

“Stay home unless you are running an essential errand, getting some fresh air or performing essential work that is exempted from the governor’s stay-at-home order,” Hart said. “If you are feeling sick, you should treat your symptoms at home and isolate yourself from others. If your symptoms get worse, please call your medical provider or the public health clinics. A doctor will be able to help you over the phone and be able to tell you what to do next.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.