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Surge In Coronavirus Cases Has Ventura County Officials Worried; Hospitalizations Grow


The number of new coronavirus cases on the Central and South Coasts continues to mushroom, with 220 additional cases reported Wednesday.  Santa Barbara County added 89 cases, and San Luis Obispo County 34.  But, the biggest growth was in Ventura County, which had 97 new cases.

Ventura County Public Health Director Dr. Rigoberto Vargas says perhaps the most concerning statistic is coronavirus related hospitalizations, which have risen 20% over the most recent three day period.

Ventura County officials held a news conference in Santa Paula to talk about the situation.  They used the backdrop to highlight the issue of coronavirus in the agricultural community.  Vargas says there was a spike in cases in the farmworker community earlier this summer, but most of it was due to a now under control outbreak earlier this summer at an Oxnard farmworkers facility. 

Vargas says more than 200 cases were linked to that one spot.  But, he says they contained it through an aggressive testing and education camapaign.

Ventura County CEO Mike Powers says they’ve prevented much more widespread farmworker outbreaks through efforts by the county, the ag industry, and farmworker advocacy groups.  

Ventura County officials say they are doing about 12,000 COVID-19 tests a week, many thorough their four drive up sites at Moorpark College, Ventura College, Oxnard College, and at the old Ford dealership in Santa Paula.

They say the sites have been swamped at times, but they are working on adding testing capacity.  Three hour waits have been reported at times.   Barry Zimmerman is Chief Deputy Director of the Ventura County Health Care Agency.  He says the situation has also created a backlog in getting test results out to people, which they are working to ease.

Zimmerman says they are offering mobile testing in smaller communities.  This Saturday, the county will provide on-site testing in Piru.

Ventura County Public Health officials say the surge in the state, and in the region illustrate the dangerous potential for coronavirus to spread. Vargas says it’s a wake-up call for those who have become lax when it comes to safety.

There is no specific timeline for when the additional shutdowns for places like gyms, nail salons, and barber shops ordered earlier this week will remain in place in Ventura County.  Santa Barbara County set a date in mid-August, but health officials say that could be lifted earlier or extended based on the situation.

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