SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has infected four more people in Santa Barbara County, health officials announced today. | Credit: NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML), U.S. NIH

Four new cases of coronavirus were confirmed on Saturday in Santa Barbara County, Public Health Officials announced, bringing the county’s total positive cases to 13.

Three of the new cases live in South County; one is in their twenties, two are in their forties. The fourth case in North County is in their sixties. To protect patients’ privacy the county does not release exact ages or locations.

How the four contracted COVID-19 is as yet unknown. County Public Health’s investigation team is working to determine the infection route and the people with whom the patients have come into contact.

This larger spread of the virus was anticipated by the county’s health official, Dr. Henning Ansorg, who announced the presence of widespread community infection on Friday, March 20. He’d previously declared a local health emergency and ordered Santa Barbarans to begin socially distancing themselves on Thursday, March 12.

Federal officials today announced 10 million test kits were available and being sent to labs around the country, and that another 25 million were on the way. Which states and labs were getting them was not specified. Personal protective gear for the medical personnel on the front lines examining, swabbing, and treating potential COVID-19 patients, however, is still in limited supply.

Public Health spokesperson Dr. Doug Metz explained that staying at home was the most helpful thing Santa Barbarans could do to keep health workers safe. The more the general population avoided infection, the greater the reduction of risk to health-care providers, especially given the current limited availability of protective facemasks and other gear.

“We are urging our community to stay home when they are sick and practice consistent social distancing,” said Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, director of County Public Health. “It is critical that we all take the necessary steps to slow the spread of this illness in our community.”


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