COVID-19 outbreaks in UC Santa Barbara sorority and fraternity houses are contributing to a rise in cases that could jeopardize Santa Barbara County's ability to meet metrics for the state's next reopening tier, public health officials said Friday.
According to Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso, the outbreaks were originally thought to be contained, but further testing after recent parties in Isla Vista has revealed more cases.
"We do anticipate additional cases in the Isla Vista community," Do-Reynoso said. "We are concerned, [but] we do believe that the majority of the Isla Vista community are adhering to guidelines."
Forty-five new COVID-19 cases were reported by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department on Friday, including 12 in Isla Vista and 18 in Santa Maria, marking the county's highest daily case increase since late September.
To meet metrics for the orange tier, the county needs to lower its daily case rate per 100,000 people to 3.9 or lower. For Santa Barbara County's population, this comes out to around 19 cases per day, Do-Reynoso said.
The county's most recent case rate per 100,000 people as of Tuesday was calculated to be 4.3.
Although Santa Maria has historically led the county in overall and active COVID-19 cases, Isla Vista's active cases have tied with and even exceeded that of Santa Maria in recent days.
On Thursday, Isla Vista had 36 active cases compared to Santa Maria's 33. As of Friday, Isla Vista's active cases totaled 34 with Santa Maria at 37.
The total number of cases in the county is now 9,760, with 129 cases still considered active, according to county public health data.
The number of hospitalizations in the county has dropped slightly since earlier in the week, with 17 individuals currently hospitalized, including three in the ICU, according to county data.
Although hospitalization numbers are at their lowest since the beginning of the pandemic, Do-Reynoso reminded residents about the work that needs to be done to move into the next reopening tier.
"It is really good that our hospitalization rates are going down, but we need to be mindful of the increasing cases," she said.
In the city of Santa Maria, 37 out of 4,120 cases remain active. Sixty-seven individuals have died.
In the community of Orcutt, three out of 366 cases remain active. Three individuals have died.
In the city of Lompoc, 16 out of 922 cases remain active. Eight individuals have died.
In the Santa Ynez Valley, which includes the areas of Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez and Ballard, six out of 181 cases remain active. Seven individuals have died.
In the unincorporated North County area, which includes the areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and Guadalupe, three out of 459 cases remain active.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.