Updated at 3:30 p.m. March 17:
The number of coronavirus cases in Ventura County tripled overnight to nine and grew to six in San Luis Obispo County and two in Santa Barbara County.
The county has tested almost 200 people for the virus so far. On March 16, there were three presumed positive coronavirus cases waiting for confirmation, with one confirmed patient and one case which was being sent for continued testing after initial results were mixed. As of March 17, the number of confirmed cases was up to nine.
Not everyone is being encouraged to get checked out, though. The county’s public health department said in a news release that people with mild to moderate symptoms shouldn’t be tested in order to save tests for the most critical cases.
“Testing is not helpful if you do not have symptoms,” the release said. “Most people will get better with rest, so there is no need to see a doctor if you have mild symptoms.”
Results are going to come back faster now, though. The county announced it was one of the first of 11 county labs that has been certified to test for coronavirus locally. Before this, any presumed positive cases were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for second confirmation, which meant the county had to wait between five to seven days to get a definitive answer. Now, Ventura County can get same-day test results on hospital patients.
Additionally, Ventura County is launching two hotlines. There will be a 2-1-1 hotline for people who have questions about coronavirus, which will be available 24/7. The second hotline, for physicians, is being answered by County of Ventura doctors, and will also be available 24/7. Both these hotlines launch March 18. The county also created a Facebook group where people can ask questions and share information.
The number of active, confirmed cases also increased in San Luis Obispo County, to six, officials said March 17. There have been 298 tests conducted so far but none are pending. The county has 60 ventilators for use by patients.
The county took the step of canceling alcohol sales at all alcohol-serving establishments from 5 p.m. March 16 to 12:01 p.m. March 18.
The action effectively cancels commercial celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day in San Luis Obispo. It goes farther than the governor’s instructions, which closed bars, breweries, wineries and brewpubs, but left restaurants open in a limited capacity.
A second confirmed case of coronavirus was found in Santa Barbara County on March 17. The county is quarantining five people in Isla Vista, and others who are in quarantine in Santa Maria. According to a news conference held the evening of March 16, Santa Barbara has tested 128 people for coronavirus so far, with 31 negatives and 96 pending.
• Contact Amber Hair at [email protected]