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Surge In COVID-19 Cases Prompts Ventura, Santa Barbara Counties To "Recommend" Masks Indoors For Everyone, Regardless Of Vaccination Status


Ventura County reports more than 500 new cases of the virus in the last week

Ventura and Santa Barbara County County Public Health officials are worried. Both counties have seen a rapid growth in cases during the last few weeks.
Ventura County has had more than 500 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed since July 12th.

So, health officials in both counties are urging all people to once again wear masks in indoor settings. Masks have only been required indoors for those who are unvaccinated.

Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levinson says while the county isn’t making it mandatory for those who are vaccinated, in light of the surge it's a good idea.

The number of people in Ventura County’s hospitals due to COVID-19 is the highest that it’s been in months. Two months ago, the number was in single digits. Now, there are 41, with 38 of them unvaccinated.

The County Health officer says puts it in another way: Those who are unvaccinated are more than 20 times more likely to end up in the hospital because of the virus.

Ventura County's numbers show 504 new cases in the last week, with the daily case rate increasing to 4.4 per 100,000 people. Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 case rate is now 3.6 per 100,000 residents, and rising. The numbers also show the vast majority of those testing positive for the virus are unvaccinated.

Dr. Levin says it’s possible the hot weather we’ve been having is helping to fuel the surge. He notes that we normally be a spike in flu cases during the fall. and winter months when people spend more time in groups inside. He thinks the same thing may be happening now due to the hot weather, with people indoors where there is air conditioning.

And, also contributing to the surge may be the Delta variants of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 58 percent of new infections may be Delta, which Dr. Levin says is more contagious.

The health official says the current situation reinforces what they’ve been saying: Getting everyone vaccinated is how to stop the virus.

Santa Barbara County public health officials announced a similar move to Ventura County’s on indoor mask wearing. They aren’t required for those who are vaccinated, but are now recommended indoors. Still, so far the only place in the southern part of the state where masks are mandatory for all is in Los Angeles County.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.