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Covid-19 cases are much higher in Santa Barbara County compared to San Luis Obispo County, here's why

Posted at 11:55 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 02:55:13-04

The cases of COVID-19 continue to grow on the Central Coast, but the numbers in Santa Barbara County are much higher.

It's 354 cases to 125 cases -- that’s the number of cases in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Despite their proximity, they’re seeing drastic differences in new cases.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2019, there is an estimated 447,000 people living in Santa Barbara County.

Of those, 354 people are now infected with the coronavirus.

A majority of the county's cases fall in the north county, with 86 being reported in Santa Maria and 60 in Lompoc -- compared to 43 in Santa Barbara. The reason could be a lack of social distancing in those areas.

"Reports people give me that they're concerned about people being in the park, grilling, obviously not abiding by those social distancing directives," said Dr. Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health officer.

San Luis Obispo County, on the other hand, has 125 cases out of the estimated 280,000 people living in the county.

The highest number of cases are in the northern part of the county with 65.

While there isn't a definitive explanation, the San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health believes population density is a factor, as more people are living in cities such as Paso Robles and Atascadero.

Santa Barbara County says that explains the number of cases in Santa Maria as well.

"It has nothing to do with the population; it has to do with the density of population in certain areas," said Dr. Ansorg.

San Luis Obispo County Public Health officials say they can only make guesses as to how the virus has spread, but they mention that a drastic increase in cases in Santa Barbara County could be due to the Lompoc prison outbreak.