Law Enforcement Success at Keeping Santa Barbara Beach Crowds Down

While Number of New Cases Remains Low, Residents Must Continue Social Distancing

Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors 2nd District supervisor Gregg Hart updates the community on Coronavirus during a press conference April 27, 2020. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

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Despite rumors of overcrowding at Santa Barbara County beaches last weekend, collaboration between local law enforcement agencies across the South Coast successfully kept crowds down enough this weekend that the county won’t close them down over COVID-19 social-distancing concerns. 

“While we are under the governor’s stay-at-home order, fresh air and exercise are very important to maintaining good physical and mental health,” said 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart at a Monday press conference. 

“But at the same time, we each have a responsibility to do our own part to support managing the dual challenge of recreating safely while also protecting public health.”

The conference made clear that while many are experiencing “quarantine fatigue,” the urgent need for the order is still there. Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg reiterated that while many were out and about this past hot weekend, another person died of COVID-19 on Saturday.

He reported that as of Monday, there were two additional cases in the county for a total of 473 cases. One person resides in the City of Santa Barbara and the other is an inmate at the Lompoc Federal Prison.

Of the 473 cases, 99 are recovering at home; 38 are in a hospital, 11 of which are in an intensive care unit; 322 have fully recovered; and seven have passed away. One hundred and sixty-eight of the people who tested positive for the virus were assigned female at birth, 296 were assigned male at birth, and nine are unknown. Of all the cases, 59 are health-care workers. 

Hart also offered more specific geographic data for those who have died from the virus for the first time. Two decedents were from Goleta, one was from the unincorporated area of Goleta Valley and Gaviota, one was from the City of Lompoc, one was from the Lompoc Prison, one was from Santa Maria, and one was from the unincorporated parts of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey,  Cuyama, New Cuyama, and the City of Guadalupe.

Other panelists at the press conference brought up efforts to continue living with social-distancing restrictions in place. Matt Farris, the division chief and the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, said being adaptable is part of the “new normal” so many keep talking about.

“After 9/11, we were all afraid to fly,” Farris said. “But the TSA was created, and now it’s okay for us to wait in a two-hour line. Things are different now. You go into a grocery store, and they wipe everything down for us, and we have to wear a mask and stand six feet apart, and that’s okay. Part of my job is to help you get the ‘new normal’ so we can all go back to our lives and back to business.”

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is modifying and expanding its operations to fit the “new normal,” too. Judith Smith-Meyer, the communications manager at the Foodbank, is creating a new program that connects local seniors in need with healthy restaurant-prepared food. The program takes chefs who are out of work from the pandemic and has them make hot meals for seniors.

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