For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Santa Barbara County advanced to the orange tier on April 20 under Governor Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
To reach the orange tier, the county had to meet an adjusted case rate of less than 5.9 daily new cases per 100,000 people and a testing positivity rate of less than 4.9% for two straight weeks. Today, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (SBCPHD) announced that the county has an adjusted case rate of 4.5 daily new cases per 100,000 people and a testing positivity rate of 1.8%.
Van Do-Reynoso, the director of the SBCPHD, said at the county’s April 20 Board of Supervisors meeting that between April 1 and April 15, Santa Maria saw a significant decrease — 53% — in COVID-19 cases. Do-Reynoso added that the only two regions with stagnant case rates were Goleta and Santa Ynez — both located in the county’s third district. Isla Vista, along with most of the county, is included in the regions showing a decrease in their cases.
Do-Reynoso said that the county’s hospitalization and ICU rates are at their lowest since the end of October 2020. Between April 5 and April 19, hospitalization decreased by 63% and ICU rates have decreased by 71% in the county.
As the county advances tiers, vaccination numbers are also increasing. Do-Reynoso reported to the Board of Supervisors that 52% of the county has received at least one shot, and 29% of the county is fully vaccinated.
The rules and regulations for gatherings and openings of the orange tier will be in place beginning April 21.
In accordance with orange-tier regulations, outdoor gatherings can have up to 50 people, and indoor gatherings are allowed with up to 25% capacity or a total of 25 people — whichever number is lower. Many institutions with indoor operations such as restaurants, malls and offices have either increased capacity or are allowed to open for the first time.