Four new COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday, bringing the Santa Barbara County total to 477. 

The Public Health Department said 68 percent of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus have fully recovered, which is a good sign.

Of the active cases, 39 people were hospitalized Tuesday, including 12 in an intensive care unit, and another 99 people were recovering at home.

Seven COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Santa Barbara County, and Public Health officials released a geographic breakdown of COVID-19 fatalities this week for the first time.

On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara City Council voted to make masks or face coverings mandatory for workers and customers of essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, taxis and food facilities.

Public Health officials have suggested wearing masks for about a month, in addition to maintaining a 6-foot distance between yourself and others, avoiding gathering in larger groups, frequent handwashing, and disinfecting commonly-used surfaces.

The warm weather has been tempting people to be more active, despite the statewide stay-at-home order, and Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg asked people to be patient and continue social distancing. 

“Please understand that the results of our social distancing behaviors today will only become obvious two or three weeks from now,” he said at a briefing on Friday. 

“If the virus is spreading more widely, it takes a certain amount of time for new infections to show. If we were to stop the social distancing now, our infection rate and hospitalizations would go up, and we would not be able to meet the necessary requirements for reopening.”

The Santa Barbara County Executive Office told the Board of Supervisors last week about developing economic reopening plans over the next several weeks. 

The goal is to be ready to go when California Gov. Gavin Newsom amends or lifts the stay-at-home order, and to make sure every business has a plan for social distancing and cleaning protocols, Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart told Noozhawk in a video interview.

“So if the governor turns that dimmer switch and gives local governments the authority to open more businesses, we will be ready to meet that challenge,” he said. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.