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LA County to reinstate mask mandate - Is Santa Barbara County next?

Posted at 9:00 AM, Jul 17, 2021

Starting Saturday night, L.A. County will reinstate its mask mandate due to a rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Fueled by the spread of the Delta variant, Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous county, will require masking indoors regardless of vaccination status.

But here on the Central Coast - are we next?

“If they required it again, I’d be like, ‘Oh no, we’re going back,' but at the same time ,if it’s just a preventative measure, I’d rather keep the community safe, keep our customers safe, our loved ones safe,” said Toni Rivera, Central Coast and Valley Shoe Repair manager.

Santa Barbara County business owners are wondering if potential mask mandates may be coming back to the Central Coast following L.A.’s lead.

“I would feel a little relieved just so the cases would go down and this would all be over with faster,” said Balloon Fantasy staff member Alleah Gutierrez.

Just like Los Angeles, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department says there has been an uptick in COVID-19 cases with a majority of those being the Delta variant.

Dr. Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer, said, “By now we’re anticipating that we’re probably somewhere close to 70 percent of every new case will be Delta, just like Los Angeles.

And some of the Delta variant cases are breakthrough cases, meaning people have still contracted the virus despite being fully vaccinated.

“The good news is - if they get infected, they do not get severely ill where they need hospital care,” Dr. Ansorg said.

Santa Barbara County will only have to reinstate the mask mandate if their transmission rates continue to climb. L.A. County’s transmission rate is currently at 6 percent, while Santa Barbara County’s is less than 3 percent.

“We are not mandating it at this point, because our transmission rate isn’t severe or high enough where we feel obliged to do so,” Dr. Ansorg added.

Meantime, some local businesses say they wouldn’t mind if the mask mandate returns.

“If it’s just doing our part and just wearing a simple mask for 10 minutes talking to somebody and handing them their shoes, I don’t see a problem,” Rivera said.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department says with or without a mandate, it still strongly recommends that both the vaccinated and unvaccinated continue to wear a mask to reduce the spread of the Delta variant.

“The virus is really smart. It changes. This one spreads more, faster. One infected person can infect six others,” said Dr. Ansorg.

Dr. Ansorg says for those who are on the fence about getting vaccinated, now is the time to do it to avoid hospitalizations.