Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse tested positive for COVID-19 and will likely miss this week’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta activities.
Rowse told Noozhawk on Sunday that he tested positive for the virus on Friday through a home test.
“Fiesta is a pretty popular thing,” Rowse said. “I certainly don’t want to put anyone at risk.”
Council members traditionally participate in parades and other events during Old Spanish Days.
Rowse said he is susceptible to sinus infections and had the sniffles earlier in the week, so he decided to take a rapid home test for COVID-19.
Rowse said he is taking Paxlovid, an antiviral drug prescribed for COVID-19 treatment to reduce the risk of severe illness. President Joe Biden also took the medication after testing positive for COVID-19.
On Sunday, Rowse said he doesn’t have any symptoms at the moment. He also shared that he is vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19.
Rowse is the fourth Santa Barbara City Council member since the pandemic erupted in 2020 to publicly acknowledge that they had COVID-19. Oscar Gutierrez, Eric Friedman and Kristen Sneddon have tested positive in the past.
The mayor gained attention on social media for not wearing a mask at the previous two council meetings, including Tuesday’s, which he attended in person.
Two weeks ago, Rowse was the only one of the seven members not wearing a mask in the Council Chambers.
“I don’t breathe and speak well with a mask on,” Rowse told Noozhawk.
When asked by a reporter if he thought wearing a mask might have reduced his chances of catching the virus, Rowse said not likely.
“I don’t think it had any role in me geting COVID,” Rowse said. “This particular variant is so transmissable.”
Rowse said the council members “sit pretty far apart.”
He said if people want to wear a mask “out of an abundance of caution,” that’s fine.
Rowse said he will go on the advice of his doctor going forward. There is no council meeting this week.
“I will be testing every day,” Rowse said. “I am in touch with my doctor.”
There is no Santa Barbara County mask mandate in effect, except for the statewide mandate requiring face coverings in healthcare facilities, long-term care centers, and some congregate living facilities.
The Public Health Department recommends wearing masks in indoor, public places and crowded outdoor places due to the high community transmission of COVID-19.
The dominant novel coronavirus variant is so contagious that Public Health officials also recommend upgrading the quality of mask (wearing a KN95 or N95 mask) to prevent being infected with the virus.
Click here for the County Public Health COVID-19 information page.
For more information on self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, read: Noozhawk Asks: I Tested Positive for COVID. How Do I Count Self-Isolation Days?