COVID-19 outbreak in fraternities, sororities could keep Santa Barbara Co. in red tier

Posted at 11:45 AM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-26 14:45:37-04

A COVID-19 outbreak in sorority and fraternity houses in Isla Vista could prevent Santa Barbara County from moving to the less restrictive orange tier this week.

The county reported 34 new cases of COVID-19 in Isla Vista within five fraternities and sororities on Friday. Those who have tested positive are reportedly in quarantine and isolating from others.

In order to move to the state’s orange tier, the entire county needs to average fewer than 17 cases per day. The county could move back to the more restrictive purple tier if the case count rises to more than 32 cases per day, which would cause restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and places of worship to close their indoor operations.

“The much more effective strategy is to prevent an outbreak from occurring in the first place," said Gregg Hart, chair of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. "If the residents in the parties that started this outbreak had been more responsible and consider the possible consequences of their actions, this could have been avoided entirely.”

UCSB students who do not follow guidelines set by the county could be suspended or expelled. The county says it is concerned it will see an uptick in cases 1-2 weeks following Halloween because of gatherings and parties.