SB County extend mask mandate for indoor spaces

By Agencies

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has extended the Health Officer Order which requires the use of masks in indoor public settings. 

This order requires all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face coverings when indoors in public settings, with limited exceptions. 

The local authorities stated the current order is effective at 5 p.m., on January 2, and continues until 5 p.m., on February 1, or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended. 

As of December 31, 2021, the COVID-19 community transmission level is categorized as “High” in California and Santa Barbara County by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). 

As of January 6, the County has a case rate of 42.5 per 100,000 and a test positivity of 9.5%. 

The CDC continues to recommend fully vaccinated individuals wear a face covering in public indoor settings in areas with Substantial or High community transmission rates.

An update to the previous framework has been outlined by local health officials to consider rescinding the indoor mask mandate. 

The county case rate should be 7.0 cases per 100,000 people or lower for three consecutive weeks, something that due to the current contagious rate it seems hard to reach.

In addition to this, hospitalizations should be low and stable for at least 3 days. 

Local health officials will consider these metrics, along with any other relevant factors, including the spread of new variants. 

“We are heading into the winter season facing a very different virus compared to last year. Already Omicron makes up over 60% of new infections in Santa Barbara County.” shared Dr. Henning Ansorg, County Health Officer. 

Additionally, CDPH updated requirements for attending mega events, like concerts and sporting events. 

Prior to attending an event, attendees will now require either proof of vaccination, a negative antigen COVID-19 test within one day of the event, or a negative PCR test within two days of the event.

This Health Officer Order is consistent with the guidance from the CDC as well as the California Department of Public Health who issued a mask mandate per state Health Officer Order, which recommends that fully vaccinated people wear masks while in indoor public settings. 

According to official Public Health’s data there are 55,879 new cases of Covid in the County, where the Latino community is being the most affected with almost 30,000 cases, which is near 60% of all people infected by the virus.

Also, 571 people have died as result of Covid since the health officials started recording data back in March of 2020.

The full Health Officer Order can be read at,  

“We need a layered approach of protective measures to reduce transmission and severe illness. In addition to vaccination including the booster, wearing a well-fitted mask in public indoor spaces does give additional protection to the wearer and limits transmission of COVID to others. We are asking everyone to help reduce unnecessary illness and suffering by following this health order.”