Santa Barbara County announced 47 new COVID-19 cases and an additional COVID-19-related death of an elderly South Coast resident on Wednesday.

Public Health officials said the death was a person older than age 70 who lived in a congregate-care facility in Santa Barbara and the unincorporated area of Mission Canyon. The person had underlying health conditions, according to officials.

The latest fatality bring the county’s COVID-19 death toll to 90, with positive cases at 7,916, according to the latest numbers provided by the Public Health Department.

There were 54 coronavirus patients being treated in local hospitals, three more than Tuesday. The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive-care units also increased, to 23 from 21.`

Coronavirus hospitalizations in California have decreased 17 percent during the past two weeks, and there has been an 18 percent decrease in ICU admissions during the most recent 14-day period, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday at a news conference.

The state’s COVID-19 test positivity rate was 6.1 percent during the past two weeks.

The county’s daily test-positivity rate was 3 percent on Wednesday, and the county’s seven-day rolling positivity rate rose to 4.9 percent from 3 percent. The State of California looks for a seven-day average positivity rate of less than 8 percent.

Of the new cases reported Wednesday in Santa Barbara County, 17 were in Santa Maria, 13 were in Santa Barbara, four in the unincorporated areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and Guadalupe, three in the unincorporated areas of the Goleta Valley and Gaviota Coast, and three in the Santa Ynez Valley, which includes the cities of Solvang, Buellton and the communities of Santa Ynez, Los Alamos, Los Olivos and Ballard.

One each was in Goleta, Isla Vista and Lompoc, which includes the communities of Mission Hills and Vandenberg Village. Geographic locations were pending on four cases.

Inmate at County Jail Tests Positive for Virus

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department reported Wednesday that one additional inmate at the County Jail was confirmed positive for COVID-19, for a total of 41, according to sheriff’s Lt. Brad McVay.

“The inmate was tested following his contact with a previously identified positive inmate,” McVay said.

The inmate has been isolated since Sunday, when he became symptomatic and was tested as a result, McVay said. The result returned as positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The inmate remains isolated in a negative pressure cell, and he will continue to be medically monitored, McVay said.

There are now 23 inmates recovered from COVID-19 and six inmates released from custody.

The new case brings the total of “active cases medically monitored/treated” to 11.

Earlier in August, a Santa Maria inmate who landed in the hospital for COVID-19 complications had died while in custody at the Santa Barbara County Jail.

The inmate was found unresponsive in his cell, and he did not respond to lifesaving measures and was pronounced dead, a sheriff’s public information officer said.

Santa Barbara County Exceeds 4,000 Business Attestations

Santa Barbara County this week reached a milestone with more than 4,000 area businesses completing a series of tasks that allowed them to safely reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, county spokeswoman Gina DePinto said.

To date, the business attestations completed include a variety of business sectors located across the county.

“We are very pleased to see so many businesses taking important steps to safely reopen their businesses during the pandemic,” county Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart said in a statement. “This demonstrates the amazing resiliency of the business community and their perseverance during this difficult and unprecedented time.”

County officials produced the Reopening in Safe Environment (RISE) Guide, the economic reopening plan for the county, to assist businesses.

The guide was developed by medical experts and supported by feedback from all sectors of the community to create a science-based framework for residents, businesses and organizations by which to reopen in a phased manner, while prioritizing public health and protecting the county’s most vulnerable populations, DePinto said.

“The development of the RISE Guide included the participation of more than 350 individuals in a series of 27 roundtable meetings with city leaders, local elected officials, chambers of commerce, industry sectors, faith-based communities, representatives of essential workers, and organizations that regularly work with minority and underserved populations,” Hart said.

The county’s reopening plan includes a template for businesses to create their own custom COVID-19 protection plan consistent with state guidance and health officer orders, as well as a self-attestation to signal to employees and the public that their business took the necessary steps to ensure a safe reopening.

The county assembled a team of ambassadors who offer one-on-one help for individual businesses, assisting them in their reopening process.

“The ambassador program was very effective in providing individualized assistance to businesses across the county,” Hart said. “Through our ambassadors, we were able to help businesses obtain the tools they needed to open their doors.”

Click here to view the RISE Guide and other business reopening information.

Labor Day Weekend Beach Restrictions 

Beach restrictions throughout Santa Barbara County will occur over the Labor Day holiday weekend in early September, according to county officials.

The county’s Dr. Henning Ansorg has issued a health officer order to outline the specific parameters of the restrictions. He issued an order effective at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 4 and continuing until 11:59 p.m. Sept. 7.

All beaches will be temporarily closed for stationary activities. 

Only immediate access to and from the ocean for water sports or beach access for active physical activity will be permitted. 

The county order states that “sitting, lying, standing, sunbathing, sight-seeing, picnicking and all other nonexercise, passive or sedentary activities on beach parkways are prohibited. Items for sitting or lying on the beach are prohibited for use of possession on beaches, such as umbrellas, shade structures, tents, barbecue grills, sand or beach toys, coolers and beach chairs.”

The disease transmission rate has been consistently improving during the past few weeks, but that metric remains above the threshold outlined by the California Department of Public Health for being removed from the state’s monitoring list, county Public Health officials said. 

“Reduced disease transmission is critical in the fight against COVID-19. We anticipate a high volume of visitors at our beaches during the Labor Day weekend, which will impede the practice of safe and necessary social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County,” Ansorg said in a statement. “Our community has remained diligent in their efforts, and now is the time to protect all the positive outcomes we have accomplished.”

Click here to go to Noozhawk’s Coronavirus Crisis section.

Click here to go to Noozhawk FAQs on coronavirus and Santa Barbara County’s public health response.

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 DepartmentAug. 26

Difference from previous day

Total positive cases7,916+ 47
COVID-19-related deaths 90+ 1
COVID-19 patients in county hospitals54+ 3
COVID-19 ICU patients23+ 2
Total test results113,915+ 1,455
Seven-day average test positivity rate 4.9%+ 1.9%
 New cases reported Aug. 26Active cases by areaTotal reported cases by areaDeaths reported by area
South County: Montecito, Summerland, Carpinteria051736
Santa Barbara and Mission Canyon13421,06912
Isla Vista181411
Western Goleta Valley and Gaviota381491
Santa Ynez Valley3141082
Lompoc, Vandenberg Village, Mission Hills1236257
Lompoc federal correctional complex001,0193
Santa Maria17923,49247
North County: Guadalupe, Cuyama, New Cuyama, Garey, Casmalia, Sisquoc483274
Pending location4293550
Santa Barbara County total 472417,91690

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.