New state vaccination metric could move many counties, including Santa Barbara, into the red tier by end of week

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Posted at 6:21 PM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 00:47:04-05

Santa Barbara County could soon be moving into a less restrictive COVID-19 tier.

That's because of a new state vaccination metricthat health officials say could push Santa Barbara County into the red tier as soon as this Friday or possibly early next week, but the state has to reach 2 million vaccine doses first.

During the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, the director of the county health department, Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, said the possibility of California meeting that marker looks reachable. With the state nearing 1.9 million vaccines so far.

"Given the volume of vaccines that is statewide, is current statewide, it is conceivable,” Do-Reynoso said.

If Santa Barbara County were to move into the red tier once again, indoor dining at 25 percent capacity would be allowed.

"We would love to do that, so as soon as they give us the permission, yes, we will open for 25 percent,” said Great Scott's Pizza owner Kazem Mashhoon.

But other restaurants like El Rinconcinto in Santa Maria say they need more than 25 percent capacity to open indoor dining.

"The reason for this is I wouldn't like to tell my loyal customers to wait outside or that I have to tell them, 'hey, we have hit capacity, I can't help you out right now.' I just can't do that to them,” said Lucero Nuñez, co-owner of El Rinconcito.

Nuñez said for now, takeout is their only option.

"It's just too complicated. That is why when we hit 80 or 100% capacity we will, to give our customers the best that they deserve,” she said.

Over at Santa Maria’s Crunch Gym, the manager says their current outside model will also continue.

The county’s current case rate is 9.6 cases per 100,000 residents, which sets them up to move into the red tier under the new metric.

The state’s next goal is to administer 4 million doses to those in the 400 zip codes around California. Once that happens, lower COVID tiers will be even more reachable.

"Then we, depending on where we are at, we can move to the next orange tier much easier,” Do-Reynoso said.

County public health officials also want to add that it will still be many months before the entire county is vaccinated but they say this new vaccination metric will allow counties to move through tiers much faster to reopen the economy.

Other larger counties like Los Angeles are also looking into possibly moving into the red tier as early as this weekend.