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First coronavirus case confirmed in Santa Barbara County; second case reported in SLO County

First coronavirus case confirmed in Santa Barbara County; second case reported in SLO County

  • Updated

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported Sunday afternoon in Santa Barbara County by the Public Health Department.

Public Health officials said the infected individual is a North County resident in their 60s without an underlying health condition, according to Dr. Henning Ansorg, health officer for Santa Barbara County. 

Ansorg said the individual is recovering in isolation at home until cleared by the County Public Health Department.

The infected individual has no history or travel within or outside the United States in the last six weeks, leading health officials to believe this is a case of community transmission. 

The infected individual is working with health officials as they take steps to identify people who may have had close contact with the infected individual, including friends, family members and health-care professionals. 

The public will be notified immediately should the investigation warrant further action or if additional precautions are needed, according to Ansorg. 

Public Health officials also are responding to a potential COVID-19 exposure in Isla Vista. 

The County Public Health Department was alerted by a health care partner that multiple Isla Vista residents recently came into contact with someone in San Diego County who later tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Five individuals who are students at UCSB now are under mandatory quarantine, according to Ansorg, and testing is being conducted as needed. 

Public Health officials are notifying those who came in contact with the quarantined residents, and those individuals now are under self-quarantine in their residences. 

"The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has been actively preparing to ensure that we have a structure in place to effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our county," Ansorg said. "At this time, we are mandating social distancing measures to slow the spread of the virus. All large nonessential professional, social and community gatherings should be postponed or canceled, and smaller gatherings should be modified to allow for at least six feet of space between participants." 

Second case reported in SLO County

The second confirmed case of COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County also was reported Sunday by the Public Health Department.

The first confirmed case was reported Saturday after the County Public Health Laboratory conducted over 100 coronavirus tests last week. The second positive test was reported to the department by a private-sector laboratory that conducted the test. 

The second infected individual is an adult under the age of 60 with significant underlying health conditions and is a South County resident. 

The individual contacted their health-care provider when they developed a fever and a cough. That person now is recovering in isolation at home until cleared by health officials. 

Dr. Penny Borenstein, county health officer, believes the second case, like the first, is a case of community transmission. The infected individual is assisting the Public Health Department in the subsequent investigation, and those who had been in close contact with the individual will be contacted and evaluated. 

"Because local testing capacity increased both at our public lab and private-sector labs last week, we will likely see more confirmed cases in the coming days," Borenstein said. "We are looking at all our options to limit the spread of illness to keep our community healthy and safe. It's now vital for everyone to do their part to limit social gatherings, practice social distancing and practice good hygiene."

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Health officials are urging those who exhibit symptoms to stay home, avoid contact with others and call their health-care provider or urgent care clinic before seeking medical care to receive safe arrival instructions. 

"We are all in this together, and we need to each do our part to slow down the speed at which people get exposed to COVID-19 so that we don't overwhelm our health care system," Borenstein said. 

Chumash Casino Resort to close amid coronavirus concerns

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has elected to temporarily close the Chumash Casino Resort effective at 11:59 p.m. Sunday and extending through the end of the month. 

"We have been following the COVID-19 pandemic as it progresses and have taken necessary precautions based on governmental guidance to protect our team members and guests," said Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. "As uncertainty surrounding this threat escalates on an hourly basis, our tribe has decided to proceed with extreme caution and temporarily close the Chumash Casino Resort." 

Located on Highway 246 in Santa Ynez, the Chumash Resort Casino is owned and operated by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. 

During the projected closure, employees will be compensated, according to Kahn. 

Tribe members will adjust the closure of the resort as needed and will update the public if it is determined they are able to open sooner or need to extend the closure. 

"The health and welfare of the community is our immediate concern," Kahn said. "We will remain in close communication with local, state and federal agencies to discuss the latest developments." 

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