NewsLocal News


Santa Barbara Co. health officials recommend prolonged social distancing measures

County leaders, businesses worried about economic impact
Posted at 6:03 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 21:26:13-04

During the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisor's meeting Tuesday morning, health officials pointed to the importance of keeping up social distancing throughout the summer and into the fall to help flatten the curve in new model projections.

Some supervisors, however, were skeptical about the idea, questioning the long-term impacts to the local economy.

Health officials brought new models to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, showing that if social distancing remains in place until November, the curve of COVID-19 would flatten extensively by fall.

The move would not only slow the spread of the virus but would make sure the local health care system won't become overwhelmed.

Some county supervisors wondered if the move would be worth jeopardizing the economy.

"If we go until November, there are people who are going to be injured who don't get sick," said Peter Adam, Santa Barbara County District 4 Supervisor.

"Destroying an economy kills people too, it does," said Das Williams, Santa Barbara County District 1 Supervisor.

"It could be devastating on the economic side," said Jim Mosby, Lompoc City Council member

Casa Manana Mexican Restaurant in Santa Maria has been around since 1964, but new rules allowing restaurants to only have delivery and to-go options has already affected operations.

"We've lost quite a bit of revenue," said Jason Ontiveros, Casa Manana assistant manager.

While Tuesday's announcement from public health was based on new models, officials admitted the county could be at a much different place a week from now and it's hard to accurately predict the future of COVID-19.

If social distancing remains in place until the fall, some businesses say they'll look to make some adjustments to keep up with a new normal.

"Doing a delivery part and or a drive-thru, we might have to rearrange a few things," said Ontiveros.

Another big reason to keep social distancing in place, according to Santa Barbara County health officials, is to make sure the curve doesn't go back up.

The county's public health department expects to get more information in the next week or so on what the county will need to do differently going forward.