COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Santa Barbara County continue to decline as the county Public Health Department reported 341 new cases Wednesday.

There were also four COVID-19-related deaths reported Wednesday — all among individuals who were age 70 or older with underlying health conditions. One of the deaths was associated with a congregate care site COVID-19 outbreak. 

Two of these individuals resided in the Santa Barbara area, one resided in the Lompoc Valley, and the other in Orcutt.

In the week ending Wednesday, 2,653 COVID-19 cases were reported in the county — a 39% decrease from the previous week’s total of 4,352 cases.

According to the Community Data Dashboard, there were 88 COVID-19-positive people hospitalized in Santa Barbara County on Wednesday, with 16 of these patients being treated in intensive-care units. This is the lowest number of hospitalizations the county has seen since Jan. 10, when there were 87 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Of the 341 COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday, 173 were in the Santa Maria Valley and 54 cases were in the Lompoc Valley.

The Santa Barbara area logged 45 new cases and the Goleta Valley accounted for 23 new COVID-19 cases.

The Montecito-Summerland-Carpinteria area recorded 11 new cases and Isla Vista had 10 cases.

The Santa Ynez Valley reported nine COVID-19 cases and there were 16 cases pending geographic location Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, 2,699 COVID-19 cases are currently considered still infectious or active — again, a decrease from a week ago when 4,162 cases were active.

The Public Health Department of neighboring San Luis Obispo County announced Wednesday that it would be lifting its local Health Officer Order requiring all individuals to wear masks in all indoor public areas on Wednesday, Feb. 16. 

Unvaccinated individuals will still be required to wear masks in indoor public places, and everyone — regardless of vaccination status — will be required to wear masks in healthcare facilities, schools, child care, homeless and emergency shelters, public transport, corrections, and long-term care facilities.

SLO County is ending its universal mask mandate the same day the statewide order is ending. 

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has not yet announced whether it would lift its indoor mask mandate. 

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.