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91 new COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County; SLO County offers school waiver program
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91 new COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County; SLO County offers school waiver program

From the July 31 recap: Lompoc news you may have missed this week series
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An additional 91 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Santa Barbara County and 349 cases are still active, the county Public Health Department announced Wednesday.

Hospitalizations in the county decreased slightly from yesterday to 79, with 24 of these individuals in the ICU, according to county data.

The total number of health care workers who have tested positive for the virus is now 328, with no data given for active and recovered cases.

Santa Maria continues to hold the highest rates of COVID-19 in the county, with 158 active cases as of Wednesday and 2,709 total cases. A total of 18 individuals have died, 11 of whom died in connection with a COVID-19 outbreak at Country Oaks Care Center.

The community of Orcutt has 11 active cases out of 195 confirmed thus far. No individuals have died in the area.

In the city of Lompoc, 34 out of 431 cases remain active. Four residents have died.

The Santa Ynez Valley has three active cases and has seen a total of 67. No residents have died.

No active cases exist at the Federal Penitentiary in Lompoc, where 1,011 cases were confirmed and four individuals died.

San Luis Obispo County

An additional 21 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in San Luis Obispo County as well as another COVID-19 death, the county Public Health Department announced Wednesday.

While the county's death count of 12 remains relatively low compared to other areas, Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein pointed out that four deaths have occurred just in the last week, all connected to an outbreak at Vineyard Halls Health Center in Templeton.

Despite still being on the state's COVID-19 monitoring list and restricted from resuming in-person school in the fall, San Luis Obispo County has begun offering state-provided waivers to elementary schools that would permit them to override the state restrictions.

According to Borenstein, waivers can be granted to public school district superintendents and equivalent leaders at charter, private and parochial schools, after consulting with parent, community and labor organizations.

Part of the reason this is permitted, Borenstein said, is that young children are shown to be less susceptible to the virus.

"Science tells us they are much less at risk for getting the disease, passing it to each other, passing it to their parents and teachers," Borenstein said at a Wednesday press conference.

Public Health officials in Santa Barbara County, on the other hand, have said they will not offer the waiver to county elementary schools at this time, due to the county's ever-increasing case numbers.

While waivers will be approved on a district level for public elementary schools, each individual school will need to create a safety plan for managing a potential outbreak at the school, Borenstein said.

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Despite the many new challenges that educators will surely face over the course of the upcoming school year, several LUSD teachers and administrators said they were looking forward to navigating their new professional landscape. A key part of succeeding, they said, will be cooperation from parents and families, particularly as standards will not be relaxed in the ways they were for the final months of the 2019-20 school year.

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