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Santa Barbara County confirms 24 COVID-19 cases, SLO County reports 42
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Santa Barbara County confirms 24 COVID-19 cases, SLO County reports 42

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Santa Barbara County has six new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 24, with a total of 42 cases confirmed in San Luis Obispo County, the county Public Health Departments reported at press conferences Tuesday. 

The counties also said they are aiming to obtain new COVID-19 tests that are reportedly able to produce results in around 45 minutes, developed by molecular diagnostics company Cepheid. 

"We are actively pursuing to contract with Cepheid. It will be a significant improvement in our care," Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said.

Of the new cases in Santa Barbara County, four are South County residents and two are in North County, and all are between 22 and 59 years of age, county Public Health Deputy Director Paige Batson said.

She added that out of the 24 cases, one person is hospitalized, four have fully recovered and 19 continue to recover at home. 

Public Health officials said the number of confirmed cases is expected to rise in the coming days and weeks, reminding the public once again to prevent further community transmission by following the statewide shelter-at-home order.

"As the situation evolves, we want to remind you that each of you plays a vital role by staying home and practicing social distancing. It makes a difference as cases will increase and resources will be much more impacted," Batson said. 

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at the county press conference that the vast majority of the public has been complying with the shelter-at-home order.

"Levels of cooperation are extremely high. We have received a very small number of reports of violations, with some being misunderstandings of what is considered a violation. We will continue to handle any violations on a case by case basis, starting with a warning," Brown said. 

He added that since the shelter in place order, the number of jail bookings and arrests in the county has declined considerably. An average weekend yields 137 arrests, but this last weekend officers made only 42, Brown said.  

Calls to emergency medical services and the sheriff's office have also decreased, although Brown noted there has been an uptick in the number of domestic disturbance calls.

Within jails, Brown said nonessential staff are kept out of the facilities, COVID-19 education is being offered to staff and inmates, cleaning within the jails has increased, and extra hygiene materials are being distributed to inmates. 

In San Luis Obispo County, Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said one of the nine new cases confirmed Tuesday included a Cal Poly student who has since returned home and is recovering outside of the county.

It was not confirmed whether the individual was living on or off campus.

Also on Tuesday, Santa Barbara County's 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart said the Office of Emergency Management will open a shelter in Isla Vista in the coming days to provide additional shelter options for the homeless.

The first emergency shelter in the county was established Saturday in the Santa Maria High School gym. Emergency management officials are continuing to look at other potential areas in need of shelters, Hartt said.

Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.

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