Santa Barbara County reported 46 new COVID-19 “community” cases on Thursday, the second-highest one-day total since the pandemic began.

The county has seen rising case numbers over the past week, likely the result of increased crowds and activity over Memorial Day Weekend, and the gradual re-opening of the community and the economy.

Once again, the Santa Maria Valley had the bulk of the new cases on Thursday with 34. 

There were 28 reported in the city of Santa Maria, five in Orcutt, and one in unincorporated North County communities and the city of Guadalupe, according to the county Public Health Department.

The city of Santa Barbara reported seven new cases, and the Lompoc Valley had three. The geographic location was pending on two others.

The numbers for the “community” cases exclude inmates from the Lompoc federal correctional complex, which have remained at 984 cases for the past five days.

There were 52 community members being treated at local hospitals on Thursday, the largest number thus far, with 12 in intensive care units. The latter number has remained relatively stable in recent weeks.

The number of “active” community cases stood at 199, also the most thus far.

There were 150 people recovering at home and 677 who have fully recovered as of Thursday.

COVID chart

Santa Barbara County COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising among community members, with 52 reported on Thursday.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Seventeen people, including four prison inmates, have died of COVID-19 in the county. The county has yet to count one inmate death reported by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, pending autopsy results.

While health officials have warned that older people are most at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19, the bulk of the cases reported over the last two weeks — more than 78 percent — have been in younger age groups: 42.4 percent in the 30-49 group, 28.1 percent in the 18-29 group; and 8.2 percent in the 0-17 group.

Both the 18-29 group and the 30-49 group have experienced significantly more cases than their proportion of the county’s population.

Because new cases generally show up about 14 days after exposure, public health officials have said they don’t believe the most recent cases are related to the crowds associated with the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Presumably those, if they occur, would begin to show up in another week or so.

The county has reported an average of 393 COVID-19 tests each day over the past week. About 6.4 percent have been positive.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.