California recently reached the milestone of 1 million Covid-19 cases statewide. With transmission and hospitalizations on the rise throughout the state and concern for acute care hospital capacity, the state has made changes to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy  to curb disease transmissions and reduce case rates. 

As a result, Santa Barbara County is among 28 of the 58 counties throughout the state who will be moved back to Tier 1 (Purple/Widespread). A new Health Officer Order has been issued to reflect sector changes and took effect on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 11:59 p.m. 

Governor Newsom’s changes to the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy include: case rate and test positivity data will be from a four day lag instead of a seven day lag, to give better visibility into recent changes; counties will be moved to a more restrictive tier with one week of worsening metrics. (Previously, it took two weeks for a county to be moved.)

Counties may be moved by more than one tier if metrics determine this is needed.

The health equity metric was not used for this week’s tier assignment from the state as there has been no forward movement for any county.

Santa Barbara County’s change from the red to purple tier means that many businesses will be required to move to outdoor-only operations including restaurants, gym and fitness centers, places of worship, family entertainment centers, wineries, movie theaters, museums, zoos, aquariums and cardrooms. Bars, breweries and distilleries will be able to remain open as long as they are able to operate outside and serve food with any purchase of alcohol.  

“We are not only seeing cases increase in our county, but across the state and nation,” shared Dr. Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara County health officer. “Mixing that occurs indoors with people from different homes is the ideal environment for the virus to spread quickly.”

With movement to the most restrictive tier, schools that haven’t reopened will have to remain closed until the county moves back into the red tier or, for grades TK – sixth, until they receive a waiver from the state to reopen for in-person learning with modifications.

“I cannot reiterate enough the seriousness of the current situation. We are at a critical point where every person must wear a face covering, avoid any gatherings with persons outside their home, and stay home if you are ill,” said Ansorg. “Holidays must look different this year if we want to avoid overburdening our healthcare system and further impacts to our economy.”

The state is expected to soon release an advisory asking people to be home by 10 p.m., and may eventually require businesses to close at a certain time, according to Ansorg.  

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