After several days of improving COVID-19 numbers, Santa Barbara County on Thursday changed direction.

Public Health Department officials on Thursday reported 71 new cases of COVID-19. It’s the first time since Aug. 21 that the county had more than 70 cases in one day. On Aug. 21, there were 81 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the county.

The county reported 66 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, 23 on Tuesday, 46 on Monday, and 42 on both Sunday and Saturday.

There have been a total of 8,300 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the latest numbers provided by the Public Health Department.

No new COVID-19 deaths were reported in the county, keeping the total at 97.

The county’s seven-day rolling average test-positivity rate was 6.2 percent. The daily test-positivity rate Thursday was 4.3 percent, based on 1,649 in the county.

Of the new cases, 25 were in Lompoc, 21 were in Santa Maria, eight were in Santa Barbara, seven were in Isla Vista and two were in Orcutt. 

One each were recorded in the unincorporated areas of the Goleta Valley and Gaviota Coast, in the Lompoc federal prison complex, and in the unincorporated areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and Guadalupe.

Geographic locations were pending on five cases. 

To date, 407 health-care workers in the county have tested positive for COVID-19, the Public Health Department said.

As of Thursday, the county reported 219 active cases (people who were still infectious).

The number of COVID-19 patients being treated in local hospitals dropped by three — to 38. Of those, 18 were in intensive-care units, a number that has remained unchanged in the county in the past 24 hours.

The county’s three-day totals of COVID-19 patients being treated in local hospitals were 41 cases on Wednesday, 36 on Tuesday and 43 on Monday.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department reported Thursday that nine additional inmates at the Main Jail have tested positive for COVID-19, for a total of 72.

Two inmates exhibiting COVID-19-related symptoms on Tuesday were tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, Sheriff’s spokeswoman Raquel Zick said.

The additional seven inmates were tested as part of sweeping testing of more than 450 inmates and found to be COVID-19 positive Thursday, Zick said.

“All nine inmates are being monitored by custody and medical staff regularly,” Zick said. “There are an additional 290 test results from sweeping tests that are pending.”

The California Department of Food and Agriculture on Thursday announced that Santa Barbara County had joined Housing for the Harvest, a program unveiled by Gov. Gavin Newsom to provide temporary hotel housing for farm and food processing employees to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19 and do not require hospitalization, or have been exposed and cannot properly self-isolate at home, according to Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 Joint Information Center.

California officials are securing hotel rooms in counties, with local government identifying administrators to manage the program and community organizations to provide additional services such as meals, in-language assistance and wellness checks.

Local administrators will be “a point of contact for eligible workers,” county officials said.

The county’s Department of Public Health will partner with the local Family Service Agency to manage the program. 

The program ultimately will be made available statewide and provide opt-in housing support for interested counties or regions. California has received approval by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the program during the COVID-19 pandemic and will seek federal reimbursement for 75 percent of hotel costs, county officials said.

“This program is essential to protect the health of our agricultural workers, their families and local communities, as well as the continuity of our food supply,” CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said in a statement. “We welcome Santa Barbara County to this effort and look forward to expanding the program across the state.”  

Farmworkers or food processing workers in the county who are in need of the services are urged to call the Family Service Agency at 805.325.5341. County officials said that “personal information gathered through this process will be kept confidential.”

Area organizations interested in becoming a regional administrator can send an email to    

“COVID-19 has had a profound impact on our farmworkers and food processors,” Lisa Brabo, executive director of the Family Services Agency, said in a statement. “We rely so much on these essential workers, and the Housing for the Harvest Program will ensure our agricultural community continues to have access to basic needs while staying safe. We are pleased to collaborate with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department to bring this important program to our county.”

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

Santa Barbara County Public Health DepartmentSept. 3

Difference from previous day

Total positive cases8,300+ 71
COVID-19-related deaths 97+ 0
COVID-19 patients in county hospitals38– 3
COVID-19 ICU patients180
Total test results123,523+ 1,649
Seven-day average test positivity rate 6.2%– 0.1
 New cases reported Sept. 3Active cases by areaTotal reported cases by areaDeaths reported by area
South County: Montecito, Summerland, Carpinteria011797
Santa Barbara and Mission Canyon8321,12212
Isla Vista7121601
Western Goleta Valley and Gaviota1181741
Santa Ynez Valley061212
Lompoc, Vandenberg Village, Mission Hills25397008
Lompoc federal correctional complex131,0233
Santa Maria21683,62551
North County: Guadalupe, Cuyama, New Cuyama, Garey, Casmalia, Sisquoc1103595
Pending location5223460
Santa Barbara County total 712198,30097

Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @NoozhawkNews

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