When Isla Vista reported its first COVID-19 case on March 30, it remained the only confirmed case for over the next two months. As students returned to town for summer sessions and the start of fall quarter, however, that number began to balloon.
On June 22, the first day of summer sessions, there were 7 confirmed COVID-19 cases in I.V. By Oct. 1, the first day of fall quarter, there were 239. Now, there are nearly 400 cases — more than those in the City of Goleta, the community of Orcutt and the Santa Ynez Valley, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (SBCPHD) website.
As COVID-19 numbers began to climb in the community, the Nexus reported on numerous parties and large gatherings in August and October that drew hundreds of maskless people to the streets. By the end of October, UC Santa Barbara had reported at least five COVID-19 outbreaks in Greek life housing and announced that about 100 UCSB students in I.V. currently have the virus, according to KCSB reporting.
Previously one of the most dormant areas in the county for COVID-19, I.V. has now become one of the most active, dominating the county in terms of the number of active cases and impacting its prospects of entering the next reopening phase. It has drawn the response of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, which passed an ordinance on Oct. 20 to begin enforcing county public health orders in unincorporated areas of the county — including I.V. — through a system of fines.
On Saturday, Oct. 17, Nexus reporters spoke with passersby and partygoers on Del Playa Drive from 10 p.m. to midnight, fielding their thoughts on COVID-19, parties in I.V. and the government’s response to the pandemic in hopes of answering the question: Why are people partying during the pandemic?
Though large, maskless groups meandered through Del Playa Drive and parties continued to fill front lawns, the night was noticeably quieter than evenings recorded previously by the Nexus, drawing about 200 people in the span of two hours.
A majority of those who spoke with the Nexus did so under the condition of anonymity, citing safety concerns, but some were willing to share where they were from and their respective school affiliations.
“Honestly, if I get COVID now, I don’t really care,” said a student and baseball player for Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), who asked to remain anonymous, citing safety concerns. He said he does not have to get tested for COVID-19 for another three weeks, citing it as “the reason I’m [out] here.”
But he said he still avoids larger gatherings, adding, “I think if you’re hanging out with one or two people, it looks fine, but when it’s 30, 40 people, it gets a little weird.”
According to Health Officer Order No. 2020-12.12 from the SBCPHD, “all gatherings, whether large or small, are prohibited unless exempt.” Exemptions include businesses, outdoor recreation activities and congregate living facilities, according to the health order.
Zaina Al-Hinn, a third-year UC Santa Barbara student, said she also feels the same when it comes to large gatherings.
“We’re out on the streets but we still keep a small circle,” she said while on her way with a group of friends to a gathering of “no more than 10 people.”
Al-Hinn and her friends said they take COVID-19 seriously and do not support large gatherings, but find that COVID-19 “isn’t as concerning” in a younger town like I.V., where the median age is 20.6.
The 18 to 29-year-old age group currently accounts for the highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases in the county and the second highest number of total cases, according to the SBCPHD website.
“It’s a real thing. However, in this town, it’s a lot less looked [down] upon due to the circumstances, due to the fact that a lot of people that live here are of a lower age rather than people of a higher age who are getting a lot more infected,” Al-Hinn said, adding that she isn’t as concerned about spreading the virus in I.V. as she is at home.
“It is a risk, but it’s not as high as it is for people that are at a higher age, just due to the scientific facts about what COVID does,” she continued.
In September, a research paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that 21% of 3,222 18 to 34-year-olds discharged from the hospital between April 1 and June 30 for COVID-19 required intensive care during their stay. Another 10% of 18 to 34-year-old patients required mechanical ventilation, and nearly 3% died, according to the research paper.
One of Al-Hinn’s friends, a third-year UCSB student who chose to remain anonymous due to safety concerns, said she previously tested positive for COVID-19 in her hometown of San Diego, and that “a bunch” of her friends in I.V. have already had the virus. Though Al-Hinn’s friend said she was largely asymptomatic — losing only her sense of smell — Al-Hinn said she knows people who contracted COVID-19 and faced “severe symptoms.”
Beyond discussing large gatherings, some on Del Playa Drive argued that the federal government handled the virus poorly in its early stages and allowed it to spread throughout the country much faster than in other parts of the world.
“I’m just saying, if the president would have said to wear masks sooner, I feel like a ton of this could have been avoided,” said a partygoer, who asked to remain anonymous due to safety concerns. “I’ve seen videos where people are literally like, ‘Trump doesn’t wear a mask, so I don’t have to.’”
Universal mask use is strongly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In addition to the federal government, others thought that local governments should be doing more for their communities.
“A lot of people blame the president, but it’s not the president’s problem,” a UC Los Angeles alumnus said, adding that he was in town just for the weekend. He asked to be referred to only by his school affiliations, citing safety concerns. “It’s more of a local politician’s problem.”
“I’m from LA, so [local government] should have given us a heads up. While half of Europe is under lockdown in February, our time came in March. So they had like one month in advance,” the former UCLA student continued. “We shouldn’t have waited until the last second.”
Some said that because of I.V.’s young demographic, COVID-19 doesn’t feel like a serious health threat.
“I mean, obviously I think the pandemic is a huge deal. We want to save lives — of course — which makes total sense. But in a town like this, it’s so hard to remember that there is a pandemic going on because the population of Isla Vista is literally like 25-year-olds and under, you know?” said a partygoer, who wished to remain anonymous because of safety concerns.
“We literally never show any symptoms,” the partygoer continued, “so it’s hard for us to know when we have it.”
The SBCPHD recently added more COVID-19 testing appointments at I.V. Theater, while continuing to provide other free testing options to community members at the Goleta Valley Community Center. Just recently, UC Santa Barbara announced that it would be hosting a free, on-campus COVID-19 testing clinic from Oct. 27 to Oct. 30 for all asymptomatic students. UCSB students exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should instead make an appointment directly with Student Health.
As passersby shared their thoughts on COVID-19 with the Nexus throughout the night, a spectrum emerged: Some felt that gatherings should be kept to no more than a handful, while others had no fears about large crowds — or not wearing a mask.
“Let’s say I get the coronavirus. I have a 99.7% chance of surviving it,” said a first-year SBCC student who wished to remain anonymous due to safety concerns. “I think it’s one of those sicknesses where I can not wear a mask and go out and be OK with it, because the flu takes as many deaths as the coronavirus has.”
Although there is no singular COVID-19 mortality rate, the number of deaths per 100 confirmed cases in the U.S. is 2.6, or a survival rate of about 97.4%, according to Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, the latest estimates suggest that COVID-19 may be 50 to 100 times deadlier than the seasonal flu, according to National Geographic.
The SBCC student said he felt there was no need “to be in a lockdown” as a result of the virus and maintained that “kids are still gonna want to go out” because “they know that the virus isn’t that big of a deal.”
“I mean, you don’t see anyone around here wearing masks, right?” he asked.
Fking idiots deserve to get it and bring it home to their families. When they kill someone they love, maybe they’ll care.
“people disagree with me so I hope their family members die”
glad 2 see mental illness is still alive and well at ucsb
The mental illness is the idiots that think they’re immune and put the lives of others in danger because of their own stupidity and selfishness. I never said “I hope their family members die”, your reading comprehension is substandard. However, if the consequences of the actions result in that kind of tragedy, then they deserve all the blame because they knew the risk and took it anyway.
Let’s see if you’ve also put the lives of others in danger, since you care so much:
Have you left your home since the pandemic started?
Do you really think a fabric mask prevents microscopic airborne particles from spreading?
Is a small houseparty any different than a sports team, a grocery store, a business, or anywhere else in terms of a disease spreading?
Just food for thought. Maybe you’ve been given a red herring to focus on instead of things that actually matter.
Yes we should be focusing on how the federal govt has failed us during this time
No, I haven’t left home. Yes,
I follow the science and you should too since this is a research university and as far as I’m concerned, everything should be shut down until this is over. Opening up has done nothing but spread it. Trump is incompetent and a murderer. Thanks for showing your hand: you don’t care so much.
The latest science says that the disease is airborne, can spread more than 6 feet, and that wearing a mask doesn’t stop its spread. People are wearing masks and we’re still seeing a giant second wave in almost every state in the country. I know you want to FEEL like you’re doing something, but unless you stay in your home until we have a widely-available vaccine (which will be years if not many months from now), your actions are moot. People are still dying from it, it’s just going to be slower. They’ll get it next month instead of this… Read more »
Let us know when you’re an infectious disease expert. In the meantime, I’ll listen to the experts, not some moron on a thread.
Literal infectious disease experts are the ones saying it’s airborne and can spread more than 6 feet. So listen to them!
Or just ignore the facts in front of you and just do what the TV tells you to. Not like that’s ever caused injustice before…
you selectively listen to the experts. The experts all say masks social distancing and staying at home will save lives but you only want to listen to the 6 feet part. Picking and choosing what fits the narrative that you already decided on
“Exemptions include businesses, outdoor recreation activities and congregate living facilities”
So when it comes to partying/socializing the pandemic is a hugeeee deal but business/sports/protesting it’s fine? Does the virus not spread when you’re at work or playing soccer?
Or maybe, COVID isn’t actually that dangerous and you’ve just been had. If it was actually killing people at a significant rate there wouldn’t be “exceptions”. You’d be inside trying not to die. But that’s not the reality here.
Over 1000 people dead every day isn’t that dangerous to you?
It’s safe enough for most people to feel safe going to work/restaurants/play sports/etc.
If you really cared about the people dying and weren’t just using them for conjecture, you wouldn’t be at the grocery store or anywhere outside your home ever for that matter. But you don’t. You’re just mad about partying because the news and groupthink.
I’m out as little as possible shopping every 2 to 3 weeks and doing nothing else. so yes I’m doing what you said people who care are doing. You just don’t value human life over your selfish needs. Keep trying to justify your callous indifference to people’s suffering
He doesn’t value human life.
Okay, so if I go out and party every 2-3 weeks and get groceries safely delivered to my house, how are you and I any different? Same exposure, same risk.
That is stupid you are just passing the risk on to someone else who does the shopping for you then adding more risk by partying which is very different than shopping
do you care of have any concern over the deaths because you show none?
At a certain point it’s natural selection. The disease causes literally zero to flu-like symptoms in 99%+ of people. And then certain people become severely ill to the point of death.
It’s part of a larger issue. How far should we take medicine and restrict the lives of people in order to protect a small group of genetically unfit individuals? If we never find a cure for COVID, will you never leave your house for the rest of your days? Or do we just take the training wheels off at some point?
Wow so the people who died are genetically unfit? That is very Malthusian of you. Considering people of color are being killed at a much higher rate than white people you are calling them genetically unfit.
Are you really insinuating I’m racist because COVID kills POC disproportionately? 🤦🏽♂️🤦🏽♂️
Yes, the people who die from a virus that a majority of people literally don’t even get sick from are, indeed, genetically unfit.
You doubled down on saying that the people are genetically unfit if they die and disproportionate ly those people are people of color so yeah you are saying that people of color are more genetically unfit than whites. It’s not hard to follow in using your words and stats to prove that What you are saying is racist I didn’t say you are but if you still back your b.s. Racist point then yeah you are racist
We can literally see how your opinions warp your ability to operate within reality. You’re so sensitive to race that you’re trying to dismiss facts that don’t coincide with your neat little worldview.
The white people that were selected out of the gene pool by Coronavirus were genetically unfit, just as the POC that were selected out of the gene pool by Coronavirus were. Let your neurosis misinterpret that as it will.
You being so hell-bent on drawing a line between white people and everyone else is quite concerning.
Nope just admit that your thinking leads you to say people of color are more genetically unfit. Which is what you are saying in a round about way. You also saying old people are genetically unfit but the fact that they made it to old age proves you wrong . Your ignorance and stupidity is overwhelming. I’m not drawing a line between races in staying stats and corresponding them them to your lies and falsehoods to expose you hidden agenda
Ya my hidden agenda of making people realize if COVID was that dangerous we wouldn’t risk our lives for a swim meet or to head into the office or to go pick up some veggies. No one’s gonna call you a granny killer if you do any of those activities. But a SOCIAL GATHERING? “People are dying you know! Do you not care about the lives of those around you? How would you feel if someone in your family died?” ad nauseum.
Parrot what your TV tells you. The news anchors are trying to make u smarter.
Wow you pivot quickly away from your racist statements to fox news talking points. Do you really think if it was worse people would not go out to get food and would starve instead? Your critical thinking is badly damaged and your callous disregard for other human life is disturbing. Yes swim meets shouldnt be happening. The shut down is the result of people like you not social distancing and following obvious safety precautions.
litrly no one would have died if every one follows the science and wear masks
If UCSB administrators want to open, fill their dorms, and restart the money machine they need to take the lead and test everyone in IV continually–coordinating with the County where needed. Test, test, test, track. One of your numerous “Dean of IV” types can coordinate. If you do not you will continue to hemorrhage money as will the community. You are Santa Barbara’s largest employer. You are a public institution with laboratories. You have your fingers deep into each of our idiotic special districts. Organize, scale up, and help the community that works for you. Your lack of leadership during… Read more »
You are a joke. You don’t understand the roll of the federal government and their failures
Are you aware that from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, UC Santa Barbara received $166.1 million in direct and indirect federal funding, which represents 71% of the total sponsored project awards. Perhaps UCSB could redirect some of this money toward COVID testing
and that addresses nothing about the role or failure of the federal government. You show a lack of basic under standing of how things get funded at UC and the money cannot be spent in any way the UC see possible. You are out of your depth and talking about things that you have no clue about.
In fact federal funds can be both acquired and redirected in emergencies but that requires proactive planning, grant writing, and action by parties like UCSB. You want to blame the federal government for our travails and yet keep your nose up ucsb’s anterior? Wake up. UCSB is funded by the federal government.
the fed has done its best to defund UCSB and education why do want to suck the fed off and say that they need to do nothing in an emergency? The federal gov has done everything in its power to make this worse and muddle the response. It is their responsibility to respond but like everything else the current admin has not taken problems seriously nor tried to help the whole country instead of just themselves
The “Fed” is ucsb’s largest source of outside funding (see numbers above). how does $166 million equal “defund UCSB”. Are you saying this is less than received in the past? There are entire buildings on that campus paid for by the “Fed”. ucsb is a state university that pays no taxes. UCSB has a “community service” mandate. Sitting on their hands while the County burns is an act of self immolation. there is a lack of leadership on that campus. There are undeniable problems with the “fed”–funding for science is not one of them.
Yes it is relatively less in real dollars than before thats why student tuition has skyrocketed. Why cant you see a failure at the top the president is complete failure in this and hasnt helped the situation but you sit and ignore that and look at local leadership which has done a much better job than the fed
UCSB and the UC in general is a bloated bureaucracy–one need look no further than the herd of “vice chancellors” attempting to respond to COVID. Try searching “Janet Napolitano and Office of the President” for further insight in to system wide dry rot. That is why tuition is skyrocketing at a public university whose charter states is supposed to be “free to all Californians”. The UC is/was arguably the greatest university in the world but it is drowning in bureaucrats. This one needs a new leader–NOW. Sure the president is a science denying dotard but you somehow conflate that into… Read more »
you know Napalitano isnt the president now. We will have a new more competent president the chancellor will stay. Which vice chancellors would you remove? The UC isnt a university. UCSB or UCLA are universities the UC is a system of universities. You mean we need a leader like the president has led this country?
Gee is must have missed the fact that dipstick is not longer president. Duh. Yes, one hopes the new UC president is a breath of fresh air. Time will tell if this chancellor stays. He is 80–really connected to this generation of students. I wouldn’t hire him to run a daycare let alone a university. All “vice chancellors” connected to the Dean of Students office need to go. Indeed any/all “vice chancellors”. Cut that worthless fat and focus on education. “University of California”–stands for just that. Feel free to look the history up yourself. The campuses are all part of… Read more »
I dream of a day when Gen Z idiots place the health of others over their “need” to party.
I dream of a day when people use their brains for 5 seconds to think about how their cloth mask magically stops microscopic airborne particles.
You need a sealed and enclosed mask with an air filter. A glorified thong isn’t stopping you from breathing anything in or out.
You’ve just been given something trivial to focus on and get emotional about because the real fact of the matter is we have no way of containing or stopping this virus, short of total in-home isolation. But let’s get mad about a piece of fabric.
Your comparison between a mask and a thong show that you have never been close to either. With a lack of understanding basic concepts, compassion and other simple concepts it’s not surprising
“Hahahahaha u disagree with me bro I bet you’ve never even had sex” headass
Your list of “basic concepts, compassion, and other simple concepts” really sold me. Especially as a response to “how will a piece of fabric prevent microscopic airborne particles from spreading?” You’re right dude. Thank you.
Your point is a reductionist stupid thought. The mask does stop water droplets in your breath which hold viral load and yes it doesnt stop them all but it greatly reduces it. If You really cannot understand that im sorry that you are so beyond help. Keep listening to the right wing science deniers and ignoring facts and the truth. So stupid
Why list more basic things that you wont understand. Every post of your show a lack of understanding even simple things a child could understand but you either are too dumb to understand or purposely obtuse.