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Santa Barbara County confirms 44 COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths; SLO County moves closer to red tier
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Santa Barbara County confirms 44 COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths; SLO County moves closer to red tier

From the What you need to know for Thursday, September 17 series

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed an additional 44 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, along with two deaths as a result of the illness.

The total number of cases in the county is now 8,785, with 179 cases considered to still be active and contagious, according to county data.

One of the deceased individuals was a resident in the area of Santa Barbara and Mission Canyon between the ages of 30 and 49 who had underlying health conditions. 

The second individual was a resident of the Santa Ynez Valley, which includes the areas of Solvang, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Ballard and Santa Ynez. They were over the age of 70 and also had underlying health conditions, according to the Public Health Department. 

The deaths reported Wednesday bring Santa Barbara County to a total of 109 confirmed deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The number of hospitalizations has remained fairly steady over the past few days, with 30 individuals currently hospitalized, including eight in the ICU, according to county data.

In the city of Santa Maria, 53 cases remain active out of 3,774 total confirmed cases. Fifty-nine individuals have died.

The community of Orcutt currently has 12 active cases with 305 total cases confirmed. Three individuals have died.

The city of Lompoc has 18 active cases out of 781 total cases. Eight deaths have been confirmed.

In the Santa Ynez Valley, eight out of 142 total cases remain active, with five COVID-19 deaths now confirmed.

At the U.S. Penitentiary in Lompoc, two cases remain active among inmates, according to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). There are currently no active cases at the Federal Correctional Institute, which is located at the same complex.

Four inmate deaths as a result of COVID-19 have been confirmed between the two facilities by the BOP. However, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has only confirmed three based on information from death certificates. 

COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County

Public health officials in neighboring San Luis Obispo County reported Wednesday that the county may be able to move into the next reopening tier Tuesday if they continue to meet required case and positivity metrics. 

To move between reopening tiers, counties are required to meet the case and positivity metrics of the next tier for two consecutive weeks. San Luis Obispo County is currently in the purple, or "widespread," tier. The purple tier is the most restrictive.

According to county Health Officer Penny Borenstein, the county has met required metrics for the red, or "substantial," tier for the past week, and will find out Tuesday from the state if they have met requirements for a second week and can move forward. 

"I'm fairly optimistic that we will be able to move forward next week," Borenstein said. 

In the red tier, schools may choose to reopen with modifications, and limited indoor operations also will be permitted for restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and places of worship. 

An additional 23 COVID-19 cases were confirmed Wednesday, along with the county's 27th death as a result of the illness — an individual in their 80s with underlying health conditions.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in the county is now 3,316, with 196 cases still active, according to county data.  

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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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