Over 70 new COVID-19 cases have been reported this weekend in Isla Vista, a surge corresponding to a sharp increase in cases across Santa Barbara County, which now has the highest COVID-19 spread of any county in California.
Fifty-one new COVID-19 cases were reported in I.V. on Saturday through UC Santa Barbara Student Health alone, according to an email sent to students Saturday afternoon from Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn and Student Health Executive Director and University Physician Vejas Skripkus. This, combined with an additional 22 cases reported on Friday, brings this weekend’s total to 73.
Klawunn and Skripkus stated that the vast majority of those cases are from undergraduate students, and that students are experiencing more serious symptoms than they were a few weeks ago. They also emphasized that this new surge in positive cases does not relate to the recent increase in students living in campus apartments.
The email also reminded students of the Regional Stay-At-Home Order for Southern California, which mandates mask wearing and physical distancing, and that no indoor or outdoor gatherings with people outside a household are permitted.
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in October that allows peace officers and public officials to enforce public health orders in unincorporated parts of the county, such as I.V. Residents can face fines from $100 to $500 for violating any public health orders, a move meant to deter large-scale gatherings.
Over the long weekend, however, Nexus reporters observed multiple outdoor gatherings and large groups of residents walking together without masks.
In addition to testing available for UCSB students through Student Health, I.V. Theater is now a permanent COVID-19 testing location from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays for walk-ins.
In Phase 1A of Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, vaccinations are being prioritized for healthcare workers and individuals over the age of 75. After those groups are vaccinated, the county will move into Phase 1B, which includes people aged 65 to 74 as well as those at risk of exposure in workplaces such as childcare, emergency services and agricultural workers.