The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is investigating an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak at a skilled nursing facility in Santa Maria.
The Santa Maria Post Acute Center is now the site of one of the largest outbreaks at a Santa Barbara County skilled nursing facility since the start of the pandemic.
A neighbor states she was shocked to find out about the outbreak because although she's seen family members visiting, she's noticed they have been taking the necessary precautions.
"They were really careful and they were just having their chairs outside and just watching through the window,” said Adriana, a nearby resident.
According to data from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, the outbreak has affected 38 residents and 24 staff members.
Paige Batson, Santa Barbara County Deputy Director of Community Health, says there are health guidelines that nursing facilities must follow when there are COVID-19 cases.
"Essentially, they have certain guidelines that require them to do, first of all, regular surveillance testing that they have to do as part of routine testing," Batson said.
Once cases have been identified, the facilities are required to have what they call "red zones" for positive cases to prevent spread throughout the facility.
The state and local public health departments are also working together to help provide any personnel to assist with staff shortages.
"That has been a big priority in this outbreak and everyone is working together," Batson said. "The facility has been actively working with state licensing and certification and with public health to make sure that all the different support and resources are available.”
Batson adds the county, along with the state and the nursing facility, are working together to mitigate any further spread.
"It is alarming to see these numbers skyrocket but I will tell you there have been very intentional mitigation efforts to prevent the spread," she said.
The director in charge of the facility said he is currently working on informing family members about what is going on but does not want to comment any further.
Santa Barbara County Public Health says the facility will continue to test residents and patients every seven days until no new cases are confirmed for two weeks.