Santa Barbara County reported 397 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the most in 10 days, but also reported a much larger number of test results.

The Public Health Department also reported five additional coronavirus-related fatalities, raising the county’s pandemic death toll to 644 people.

Cases generally have been declining in recent weeks, and it’s notable that Friday’s case total corresponded with a much larger number of COVID-19 tests — 4,330 versus 2,179 the previous day.

The number of COVID-19 patients in local hospitals, and those being treated in intensive-care units, remained unchanged — 70 and 13, respectively.

The county’s hospitalization numbers over the last seven days are down 22.1% from the previous week, while the ICU numbers have declined 28.6%.

There were just 11.3% of the county’s 62 staffed ICU units available on Friday, an improvement from 6.1% the previous day, but still an area of concern, officials say.

Of the new deaths reported, three were people who lived in the Santa Maria Valley, and two were from the Santa Barbara area.

Four were 70-plus years of age, and one was in the 30-49 age group. Two had underlying medical conditions, and one was associated with a congregate care site.

Of the new cases reported, nearly two-thirds — 261 — are in the Santa Maria Valley.

The Lompoc Valley reported 49 cases, the Santa Barbara area 21, and the Goleta Valley 17.

Isla Vista reported 12 cases, the Santa Ynez Valley four, and the Montecito-Summerland-Carpinteria area two.

There were 31 cases pending geographic locations.

The county’s case total over the past seven days was down almost 50% from the previous week.

The case total since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 rose to 83,760, of which 1,077 are “active” or still infectious.

County Jail Inmates Test Positive

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department reported that 15 additional COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed among County Jail inmates, bringing the total since the latest jail outbreak began in December to 277 cases.

Currently, 13 of those cases are considered active, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Raquel Zick.

“As we identify COVID-19 positive inmates, they are moved into an area of the facility that has negative pressure cells,” she said. “In the case of an outbreak, only those with active symptoms are moved. The remainder are placed together in small groups (cohorts) and isolated from other inmates.”

Superior Court to Retain Mask Mandate

Judge Gustavo Lavayen, presiding judge of the Santa Barbara County Superior Courts, announced Friday that anyone entering court facilities must continue wearing approved masks.

Further, the use of gaiters, bandanas and handkerchiefs is prohibited.

“The court recognizes that the state and county have lifted mask mandates for vaccinated persons,” said Darrel Parker, court executive officer. “However, the court wishes to provide the safest environment within which to conduct court proceedings for everyone involved.

“Court users have already grown accustomed to the prevalence of plexiglass throughout courtrooms and the availability of hand sanitizers and air purifiers in many of the facilities.”

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

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Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at