To remember the 455 individuals who died from COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County, various faith-based and community groups will gather in Solvang Park for a “Infinity Healing Ceremony” on Saturday.
The ceremony will begin at noon and feature reflections and blessings from various religious communities across Santa Barbara County, including St. Mark’s in the Valley Episcopal Community and the Santa Ynez Valley Jewish Community. Members of the Band of Chumash Natives will also be at the event to present a Blessing of the Land Ceremony.
The event is organized by the Santa Maria – Lompoc NAACP, Healing Justice SB, Latinx and Indigenous Migrant COVID-19 Response Task Force, Corazón del Pueblo and UCSB Health Equity Initiatives.
Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, the director of the county’s Public Health Department, told Supervisors about the event during their regular meeting Tuesday. She also provided an update on the county’s current COVID-19 metrics.
As of Tuesday, the county’s adjusted case rate stood at one per 100,000, and the testing positivity rate was 0.7%.
According to data from the Public Health Department, eight new cases of COVID-19 were recorded on Tuesday. Five cases were reported in Santa Maria, and one case was reported in the Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara and the south county unincorporated areas of Summerland, Carpinteria and Montecito.
Dr. Do-Reynoso also provided Supervisors with an update on the vaccine rollout in the county. As of Tuesday, 57.4% of the county’s eligible 12 and older population is fully vaccinated, 66.3% have received at least one shot.
While demand for vaccines has diminished significantly across the county, Dr. Do-Reynoso reported that the department saw an uptick in the number of people receiving their first dose at a mobile vaccination clinic last week. She hopes this will continue.
“I am encouraged that during week 10 (of our mobile clinics), we are seeing an uptick in the number of people wanting the first dose and really hopeful that together with our community orgs doing outreach that the trend in first doses will continue to increase,” Dr. Do-Reynoso told Supervisors.
In addition to these updates, it was also announced that the Board of Supervisors’ July 13 meeting would be open for in-person attendance from the public. In-person attendees from the public will be asked to self-attest their vaccination status, and those who are fully vaccinated will not be required to wear masks.
On Tuesday, the public health department also launched its “Take Your Shot” public service campaign, which encourages all eligible residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The campaign features video testimonials from physicians, journalists and residents sharing why they decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Getting your COVID-19 vaccine- it’s not just about you,” Dr. Alicia Gonzalez, the medical director for emergency medicine at Marian Regional Medical Center, said in a statement. “It’s about protecting the people that you love – your family and your friends. It’s about getting our communities back to normal.”
The new campaign comes as the U.S. eyes the emergence of the delta variant, a new COVID-19 variant that now makes up about 20% of all new cases in the U.S., according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief White House medical advisor.
“Similar to the situation in the U.K., the delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” he said during White House press conference Tuesday.
According to data from the county’s Public Health Department, the delta variant has been detected in very few samples of COVID-19 tests monitored under the county’s variant tracking efforts. According to the data, only two tests contained the delta variant, both of which were included in an April 25 sampling.
For more information on the county’s vaccine public service campaign and for more COVID-19 data, visit publichealthsbc.org.