The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will not consider any waivers at this time for K-6 elementary schools to reopen for in-person learning this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county COVID-19 rate must be well fewer than 200 cases per 100,000 people in the previous 14 days in order for the waiver application process to be implemented in schools, according to Van Do-Reynoso, director of the county Public Health Department.

“We must make every effort possible to protect our students, our teachers and our school staff during this time,” Do-Reynoso said.

County numbers continue to exceed that standard, and Public Health reported two additional COVID-19-related deaths on Friday.

Both patients were older than age 70 and lived in congregate facilities. The latest fatalities bring the county death total to 77.

This week, about half of county schools reopened in a distance learning setting, with the remaining half set to reopen next week. The state has outlined specific standards that schools must meet for instruction, assessment, attendance and engagement, according to Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County superintendent of schools.

“There is a common concern about doing what’s right and doing right by students and families,” Salcido said. “This is a multifaceted situation.”

While routine schedules have been interrupted, financial stability has been threatened and uncertainty has affected people everywhere, young adults have been experiencing a vastly decreasing mental state, according to Suzanne Grimmesey, chief quality care and strategy officer from the county Department of Behavioral Wellness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in four adults ages 18 to 24 say they have considered suicide in the past month because of the pandemic, Grimmesey said. A survey from the CDC shows a surge of anxiety and substance abuse among young adults, with more than 40 percent of participants saying they have experienced a mental or behavioral health condition related to the pandemic, she added.

“It’s clear that our young adults are contracting COVID-19 at an alarming rate,” Grimmesey said. “There’s a perception of invincibility among young adults, thinking that what is healthy is relative.”

Grimmesey noted that this young adult cohort is the largest group to be going out and about as normal, and trying to re-engage with the community.

“Young adults can be the key to flattening the curve in our community,” she said. “Our whole community needs you right now.”

Do-Reynoso said multiple salon owners across the county reportedly plan to defy state and local health orders and open their doors for indoor operations on Monday. This may be considered an unfair business practice and could result in enforcement actions from state licensing agencies, she said.

“We truly do understand the impact of closure on all businesses and are working to ensure that all businesses can open safely,” Do-Reynoso said.

Public Health reported 137 new cases on Friday, bringing the number of active cases to 290. Eleven previous cases were removed to avoid duplication. Of the new cases, 60 were in Santa Maria, 13 in Santa Barbara, and 12 each in Lompoc and Isla Vista.

Goleta reported four new cases, Orcutt reported three, and the unincorporated Goleta Valley and Gaviota reported two. The area of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria as well as the Santa Ynez Valley each had one new case. There were no cases reported at the federal prison in Lompoc.

During the past 30 days, the hospitalization rates have been rolling in a tight range between a low of 74 in mid-July to a high of 88 on Aug. 4, according to Board of Supervisors Chair Gregg Hart.

There are currently 73 COVID-19-related hospitalizations, with 26 of those patients in intensive-care units.

Santa Barbara County RegionNew positive cases reported in past two weeks
Santa Maria+ 463
Orcutt+ 36
Guadalupe and North County unincorporated areas+ 39
Lompoc+ 107
Santa Ynez Valley+ 15
Isla Vista+ 71
Western Goleta Valley and Gaviota+ 22
Goleta+ 36
Santa Barbara and Mission Canyon+ 188
Carpinteria and South County unincorporated areas+ 29
Santa Barbara County Public Health DepartmentAug. 14

Difference from previous day

Total positive cases7,274+ 126
COVID-19-related deaths 77+ 2
COVID-19 patients in county hospitals73– 2
COVID-19 ICU patients26unchanged
Total test results94,250+ 1,217
Seven-day average test positivity rate 5.5%+ 0.5%
 New cases reported Aug.14Active cases by areaTotal reported cases by areaTotal deaths reported by area
South County: Montecito, Summerland, Carpinteria141676
Santa Barbara and Mission Canyon13439568
Isla Vista12241160
Western Goleta Valley and Gaviota261271
Santa Ynez Valley17862
Lompoc, Vandenberg Village, Mission Hills12285547
Lompoc federal correctional complex0010193
Santa Maria601213,25240
North County: Guadalupe, Cuyama, New Cuyama, Garey, Casmalia, Sisquoc6112923
Pending location23332980
Santa Barbara County total 1372906,90777

Noozhawk staff writer Jade Martinez-Pogue can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Jade Martinez-Pogue

Jade Martinez-Pogue, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Jade Martinez-Pogue can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.