SLO and Santa Barbara counties stay in red tier

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While populated counties like Los Angeles entered into the orange tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy on March 30, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties will stay put in the more restrictive red tier, at least for two more weeks.
STUCK Central Coast counties, including SLO, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Monterey, will stay in the state’s red tier for reopening for at least two more weeks. - IMAGE FROM CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH
  • IMAGE FROM CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH
  • STUCK Central Coast counties, including SLO, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Monterey, will stay in the state’s red tier for reopening for at least two more weeks.

SLO and Santa Barbara reported weekly COVID-19 case rates on March 30 of 6.9 and 5.3 per 100,000 residents, respectively—missing the orange tier threshold of four cases per 100,000 residents. Eight counties, including LA and Orange, moved into the orange tier Tuesday thanks to lower rates.

In the orange tier, counties can reopen outdoor entertainment venues, along with non-essential offices, indoor pools, bars and wineries without food, and more sectors. Businesses, like restaurants, may also increase indoor capacity.

In SLO County, COVID-19 case numbers are plateauing after sharp declines in February and part of March. The county reported 42 new cases on March 30—above its recent daily average of 26 cases. Hospitalizations are still low, with only four COVID-19 patients in local hospitals, including one in the ICU.



Michelle Shoresman, a public information officer with SLO County Public Health, told New Times that the county’s lack of movement in reopening also has to do in part with declining testing numbers.

“We benefited from extremely high testing rates in our county,” Shoresman said via email. “We had some of the highest testing rates in the state and therefore, our ‘adjustment factor’ kept our adjusted case rate (used for tier standings in the State’s Blueprint) significantly lower than our real case rate.

“Since we are no longer benefiting from such high testing rates,” she continued, “our real case rate is now much closer to our adjusted case rate, similar to other counties. However, their case rates have continued to drop and we have not yet seen ours do that.”

Shoresman said it’s important for residents to try to avoid spreading COVID-19 and to get tested if they aren’t feeling well or may have had close contact.

“We need to continue to urge our SLO County residents to do all the same things we have been urging all along,” she said. “Please wear a mask in public, stay six feet away from others, stay home if you are sick, wash your hands frequently and avoid gatherings unless they are brief, outside, small, and symptom-free.”

Santa Barbara County, after having higher case rates than SLO County for most of the past few months, is now seeing a steady decline in cases, and had fewer active cases (192) than SLO (234) on March 30. Of those active cases, Santa Maria accounted for the most, at 50 cases. ∆

—Peter Johnson

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