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Coronavirus case updates: 26 confirmed in Santa Barbara County, 46 in SLO County

Coronavirus case updates: 26 confirmed in Santa Barbara County, 46 in SLO County

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed two new coronavirus cases on Wednesday for a total of 26, with San Luis Obispo County confirming four new cases bringing the total to 46.

At a press conference, Van Do-Reynoso, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department Director, also listed the cities in the county where cases exist.

The city breakdowns will only be given for cities with a population over 20,000 people, with the numbers for smaller cities including Carpinteria, Summerland and Montecito all grouped under the category "other South County" cities, Do-Reynoso said.

Six of the 24 cases are in Santa Maria, five are in Orcutt, 10 are in Santa Barbara and five are in other South County cities. 

She added that 19 of the patients are recovering at home, one continues to be hospitalized and six have fully recovered. 

The majority of the cases developed via community transmission, she said, encouraging the public to continue social distancing to prevent further spread. 

"We can reduce the number of people getting sick by 30-70 percent through social distancing," Do-Reynoso said. 

Second District County Supervisor Gregg Hart added that the cases are expected to continue increasing, along with the demand put on local facilities. 

"In the coming weeks, COVID-19 cases will increase and more patients will require hospitalization. Medical staff will also likely get sick. Systems will be strained, but we will prepare to meet that challenge," Hart said. 

San Luis Obispo County Administrative Officer Wade Horton confirmed Wednesday that the county will be moving forward with the construction of an alternate hospital site in the Cal Poly Rec Center starting next week, to serve the growing number of patients in need of care and assessment.

The "field hospital"-type facility will include between 400 and 700 beds, and the county will continue looking at other sites that can handle alternate facilities, Horton said. 

The number of cases in SLO County has continually outpaced Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, county Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said, adding that is likely due to the faster testing capacity in the county than to higher levels of infection.

Santa Barbara County has also experienced slower turnaround times on results as many tests are completed in labs in Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties, including in San Luis Obispo County's regional lab. 

"In respect to Santa Barbara County, they are using our public lab. We are running [tests] on their behalf, and they are a little delayed in their numbers because of that turnaround. Our numbers may reflect more aggressive testing and less disease," Borenstein said. 

At the Santa Barbara County press conference, Dr. Stewart Comer of Cottage Health said testing will speed up once the county can process more tests through a lab in Phoenix, Arizona, but for now tests are limited to the most at-risk individuals and first responders. 

"Our capacity continues to grow, but we are still constrained in regards to high-priority testing," Comer said.  

As of Wednesday, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department had received results from 497 tests.

The number includes tests completed through the county's public health labs, but doesn't account for tests run through private and commercial labs.

Coronavirus Series: Local impact and reaction to COVID-19 on the Central Coast

We are working hard to get answers about the impact and reaction to the coronavirus in Santa Barbara County, this is a collection of those stories. Do you have a question about coronavirus in Santa Barbara County? The Santa Maria Times news staff will work to answer your questions. Post them to our Facebook page, or email  You can support the work of local journalists working hard in your hometown by signing up for a News+ Membership online

Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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