The newest stories on the coronavirus on the South and Central Coasts.

The number of coronavirus related deaths on the Central and South Coasts now tops the one thousand mark.  22 additional deaths were reported in the region Wednesday, pushing the overall total to 1004.

Ventura County had 18 new deaths, pushing its total to 564.  Santa Barbara County had four new deaths, for a total of 279.  And, San Luis Obispo County has had 161 deaths.

Some new tax figures show the continuing devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism industry on the Central and South Coasts. 

The City of Santa Barbara is reporting that its transient occupancy tax collected in December was down 65% from the year before.  The tax is the one collected on hotel room stays, and is a good indicator if how busy motels, and hotels are in the community.

The COVID-19 stay at home orders have been removed from the Central and South Coasts, and a number of businesses have reopened, or have been able to expand their services.  But, we have some tough reminders the crisis is far from over in the region.

32 additional coronavirus related deaths were reported in the Tri-Counties Tuesday.

A major storm is set to move onto the Central and South Coasts, with potentially three to six inches of rain in the region.

A low pressure system stalled off the Oregon coastline will spin moisture our way.  Meteorologists say the atmospheric river is headed towards San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, arriving Tuesday night.

(KCLU photo)

The Santa Barbara Zoo is reopening to the public this weekend following a nearly two month shutdown due to the pandemic.

The zoo will reopen Saturday.  Because of COVID-19 social distancing requirements, admission will be limited.  Guests need to make reservations online to book timed entry to the zoo.

(KCLU photo)

It’s been a rough winter for many restaurants on the Central and South Coasts.  The state’s COVID-19 stay at home orders shut down on site outdoor dining during the holiday season, a time of year when they are normally doing big business.  But, word that they can once again offer outdoor service comes as welcome news.

Despite the lifting of the state’s stay at home orders, and some reopenings in our region, the latest COVID-19 statistics for the Central and South Coasts have public health officials concerned.

Nearly 4200 new cases of the virus were reported in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  It pushes the total since the start of the pandemic past the 110,000 mark.

The state has lifted COVID-19 stay at home orders which led to the shutdown of outdoor operations at restaurants, and the closure of personal service businesses like nail and hair salons.  With the state switching the guidelines it used for closures, it opened the door for Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County to allow some reopenings.

(KCLU photo)

UV radiation has become known as one of our enemies in recent year, because overexposure can lead to skin cancer.  But, some UC Santa Barbara researchers say it could be an unexpected ally in efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state had dropped its COVID-19 stay at home orders, returning to a county-by-county tier system which potentially sets the stage for some reopenings.  State officials say they are seeing enough improvement in key areas like hoospitalizations to justify the move.  

The Governor is expected to make a major announcement Monday regarding the possible lifting of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders which have been in effect for weeks.

State officials are confirming there will be an announcement, but haven’t released any details.  The California Restaurant Association sent a letter to its members Sunday saying it had confirmed the governor is going to make an announcement, and that it hoped to see restaurants reopen in a few days.

There’s some encouraging news in efforts to control COVID-19 on the Central and South Coasts.  For the first time in weeks, the new daily case count is below a thousand in the region.

Ventura County reported 285 new cases on Friday.  It’s the county’s lowest daily total in weeks.  Santa Barbara County is reporting 238 cases, and San Luis Obispo County 209.  The three-county total for the day is 732.

(KCLU photo)

COVID-19 vaccine remains in short supply on the Central and South Coasts.

Vaccinations are still mostly being focused on medical workers and those in care facilities.  The good news is that many of the highest risk people in the region, seniors with pre-existing conditions in congregate care facilities, have already received shots.

The COVID-19 related death toll continues to mount on the Central and South Coasts.  46 deaths were reported Thursday, the region’s highest one day total yet.

29 were in Ventura County, 11 in San Luis Obispo County, and six in Santa Barbara County.  The three counties have now had 891 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

John Paliminteri

With the limited stay-at-home order in the region disrupting everyday schedules, the need for food has increased - just like it did during the first part of coronavirus shutdowns.