COVID-19, more commonly known as the Coronavirus, is a deadly virus that emerged in Wuhan, China in late December of 2019. The virus has been in the spotlight for over six months due to its quick spread and profound impact on day-to-day life. Since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, social distancing laws have been placed, public school campuses have closed, and nonessential workers were ordered to stay at home. These factors all contribute to the community’s uncertainty of what will happen next. Many high school students have experienced anxiety over the pandemic, and public actions such as social distancing tend to increase feelings of isolation, which only contributes to their stress. Throughout these months, infection rates in Santa Barbara have fluctuated alongside the ever-evolving guidelines and evolutions of this virus. So, where is Santa Barbara now in terms of controlling COVID cases, and what can the SBHS community do to mitigate Coronavirus’s impact?
California’s stay-at-home order was issued on March 19, but beforehand, there were no guidelines. On March 13, the Education Office closed all K-12 public schools in the county, following the closing of UCSB and SBCC. Shortly after, the first local case of COVID-19 was reported on March 15. As of September 21, Santa Barbara County, which houses around 446,499 people, has 8,846 confirmed cases, with 110 known deaths and 8,556 recoveries. The Santa Barbara city (population around 91,350) totals at 1,189 cases. Over the last two weeks, officials have reported a shocking amount of about 34 new cases per day. Overall, Santa Barbara officials have reported around 238 new cases, 54 out of every 100,000 residents. This means that per every 100,000 residents, only 54 have been affected recently (Los Angeles Times).
While at the moment, we cannot completely stop the Coronavirus, there are a few things we can do to improve our case numbers and flatten the curve. One of the factors that results in Santa Barbara residents getting infected is tourism. People from other places with higher positivity rates could be carrying the virus with them as they travel. For example, many people are visiting from Los Angeles right now, which has had an average of 807 new cases reported over the past week (Los Angeles Times). Another factor is eating out at restaurants. According to a recent study by the CDC, those affected by COVID-19 were twice as likely to have dined at restaurants before getting sick (Guerrero). The last factor is spending time outside without wearing masks, especially in crowded areas such as on State Street. According to a UC Davis study, wearing a mask over your mouth and nose decreases the risk of transmission by 65% (Kushman).
In order for our SBHS and Santa Barbara community to stay safe, please, wear a mask in public, practice social distancing, wash your hands throughout the day, or wear gloves. These are all easy practices that can help you protect yourself and those around you.
- Guerrero, Susana. “If You Caught COVID-19, You Likely Ate At A Restaurant, CDC Report Finds”. Sfgate, 2020, https://www.sfgate.com/food/article/If-you-caught-COVID-19-you-likely-ate-at-a-15560086.php. Accessed 18 Sept 2020.
- Los Angeles Times Staff. “Santa Barbara County Coronavirus Cases: Tracking The Outbreak”. Los Angeles Times, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/projects/california-coronavirus-cases-tracking-outbreak/santa-barbara-county/. Accessed 18 Sept 2020.
- Office of Governor Gavin Newsom. “Governor Gavin Newsom Lays Out Pandemic Plan For Learning And Safe Schools | California Governor”. California Governor, 2020, https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/07/17/governor-gavin-newsom-lays-out-pandemic-plan-for-learning-and-safe-schools/. Accessed 18 Sept 2020.
- Rick, Kushman. “Your Mask Cuts Own Risk By 65 Percent”. UC Davis, 2020, https://www.ucdavis.edu/coronavirus/news/your-mask-cuts-own-risk-65-percent/. Accessed 18 Sept 2020.
- Santa Barbara Public Health Department. “Status Reports – County Of Santa Barbara”. Publichealthsbc.Org, 2020, https://publichealthsbc.org/status-reports/.
- Derek Chu, Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- Photo by the LA Times