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Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino listens during the “Protect. Respect. Wear Your Mask” campaign kickoff in May 2020 at the Maldonado Youth Center in Santa Maria. 

Santa Barbara County Public Health officials are strongly recommending that all residents wear masks indoors, amid a growing resurgence of COVID-19 cases and the circulation of the delta variant

Indoor mask mandates for vaccinated residents have been widely lifted throughout the state since June, with individual businesses permitted to continue requiring masking. 

Now, businesses are encouraged to require masks for all residents in order to limit the spread of COVID-19

"Out of an abundance of caution, people are recommended to wear masks indoors in settings like grocery or retail stores, theaters, and family entertainment centers, even if they are fully vaccinated, as an added layer of protection for unvaccinated residents," Santa Barbara County Public Health spokeswoman Jackie Ruiz said. 

Daily case counts have skyrocketed over the past week, with the number of active cases growing countywide by 113% to 190 as of Monday. Daily case rates have seen similar increases, from a rate of 2 cases per 100,000 people at the start of July to 5.2 cases as of Thursday, according to county data

The increase in the past week is partially credited to gatherings around the Fourth of July holiday two weeks ago. However, officials also remain worried about the growing spread of the highly-transmissible delta variant, which now accounts for around half of all California cases. 

“It remains critically important that we continue to practice safety guidelines such as staying home if feeling ill, wear a mask in public indoor settings, avoid crowded events, and practice good hand hygiene,” county Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said.  

According to Ruiz, the department will revisit the mask guidance in the coming weeks as they continue to track rates of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. 

Available COVID-19 vaccines are proven to protect against COVID-19 illness, including the delta variant. Vaccines are free and available to all residents age 12 and over, regardless of documentation status.

Residents are encouraged to schedule an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they have not yet done so via myturn.ca.gov, or by calling 211 and selecting option 4 for assistance. 

Series: Recent Santa Barbara County Supervisors coverage

Read this collection of stories on Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors from the past year. Read all of our coverage of county government online.

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