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Record-breaking COVID-19 numbers prompt pleas for community members to follow safety guidelines

Posted at 6:27 PM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 23:41:26-05

With record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases being reported in Santa Barbara County, health officials are pleading with people to stop gathering outside their households.

To continue those efforts, the City of Santa Maria has decided to put out signs that read "wear your mask" and "stay at home.” City officials say right now more than ever it's important to continue to reach out to the community that accounts for a large percentage of these new COVID-19 cases.

"We believe that this is important. We've seen the numbers starting to climb back up. We are over 5,200 cases confirmed in Santa Maria," said Mark van de Kamp, Public Information Officer for the City of Santa Maria.

On Monday, the County of Santa Barbara reported 360 new cases - the highest single-day case count in the county since the start of the pandemic.

136 of those cases were reported to be in the City of Santa Maria.

"The COVID numbers are scary so you gotta do what you can to stay safe and try not to spread,” resident Omar Madrigal said.

Health officials are attributing this spike to families and friends gathering for Thanksgiving. Some say it’s concerning.

"I think most of it is probably from the Thanksgiving get-together. My family and I just spent Thanksgiving just with three people and plan on doing the same for Christmas,” resident Joyce Adams said.

The Santa Barbara County Health Department is urging the public to pitch in and help.

In a statement, Dr. Van Do Reynoso said, “We have reached case counts that exceed all previous records. ​We must take immediate action as our decisions are now seeing the price to be paid, and it is costing the lives and well-being of our community members."

With more holiday celebrations around the corner, health officials worry cases will continue to rise.

"There is going to be people that do it and we can't do anything about that, just people just don't get it. Just stay to yourself, stay in small circles, and technology is great. We have phones, you can Facetime,” Madrigal said.

City officials say they have strategically put signs all over Santa Maria to continue their efforts but say ultimately, it's up to community members to do their part.

“I really don't think it's wise. I think if everybody pitches in we can all get through this faster. I'd hate to see anybody lose a family member,” Adams said.