Two additional deaths reported due to coronavirus
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 75 new COVID-19 cases Friday, as well as two additional deaths related to the novel coronavirus.
The county’s total number of confirmed cases is now 3,931, with 3,555 having fully recovered. A total of 31 people have died in the county due to COVID-19. The two new deaths were both residents in the 70s in the Santa Maria area, which has now reported 18 deaths due to COVID-19. The new deaths are related to an outbreak at a skilled-nursing facility, according to officials.
Of the new cases announced Friday, 31 were in Santa Maria, 18 were in Santa Barbara and 11 were in Lompoc. Several other areas reported two additional cases, including the unincorporated areas of the Goleta Valley and Gaviota, Santa Ynez Valley, Orcutt and areas near the city of Guadalupe. One new case was reported in the communities of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria, as well as one new case in Isla Vista. Five cases were pending.
A total of 75 patients are being hospitalized throughout the county, including 23 in the Intensive Care Unit.
The county has experienced a 42% increase in total cases in the past two weeks, Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, director of the county Public Health Department, said during Friday’s press conference.
Of the cases that have been investigated, 57% are from person-to-person contact and 42% are from community spread. Several patients have identified being in close contact with parents, close friends, co-workers or roommates, while the community exposures have originated from family gatherings such as Father’s Day or July 4, funeral services, church services, local jails and bars, Dr. Do-Reynoso said.
“Ninety-nine percent of cases became infected from close contact or exposure,” she said. “This means that you must assume that everyone you come into contact with may be infectious.”
Gregg Hart, 2nd District Supervisor and chair of the county Board of Supervisors, said the county is in the process of writing cease and desist letters to local businesses or venues that are not in compliance with health mandates. He acknowledged that “we won’t enforce our way out of this problem,” though county officials may soon deploy the letters to restaurants that continue to operate indoors or to venues where patrons are not wearing face coverings.
“The most important takeaway is the virus is very active in our community right now,” Mr. Hart said. “When we were all sheltering at home and businesses were closed, the virus was not easily transmitted from person to person. Since the reopening of many businesses in early June, more people are mixing and the virus is being transmitted invisibly throughout the community. The most important question is: what can we do about it? The answer starts with our own personal responsibility.
“Some people believe it’s inevitable they will get the virus and it won’t be a big deal because they are young and healthy. That may be true for some,” Mr. Hart explained. “Many people have contracted the virus and only had a very mild reaction. Unfortunately, a mild reaction to the virus isn’t necessarily always the end of the story. An asymptomatic person can unknowingly pass the virus on to someone who then may face life-threatening disease or permanent organ damage.
“Being young and healthy also does not automatically make you immune to the very serious, and even potentially life-threatening, medical complications from COVID-19.”
Mr. Hart said he realizes it is “frustrating to be diligent and respectful and concerned” only to see other people ignoring the face covering mandate.
“It feels extraordinarily unfair,” he said. “I find myself asking, ‘How can they be so irresponsible?’ I strongly believe we’re all going to get through this together by modeling proper behavior and setting the best possible example. It isn’t helpful to be consumed about what other people are doing. It is increasingly clear COVID-19 isn’t going away soon. I’ve come to the sober realization we have to adapt and be resilient to all the changes we are experiencing, because we will be facing this pandemic for a longer period of time than we had all initially hoped.
“This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and perhaps even an ultra marathon.”
Cottage Health issued an update Friday, reporting that it is caring for a total of 288 patients across all campuses. Acute care patients make up 228 of the patients and 145 acute care beds remain available. In surge planning, capacity is identified for adding 270 acute care beds.
Of the 228 acute care patients, 17 are on ventilators. A total of 69 ventilators remain available. Of the acute care patients, 31 are in isolation with COVID-19 symptoms and 29 are confirmed COVID-19 positive.
From June 22 to 28, Cottage Health collected 2,955 COVID-19 lab tests. Of those, 139 were positive, 2,813 were negative and three were pending.
From June 29 to July 5, Cottage Health collected 3,658 COVID-19 lab tests. Of those, 188 were positive, 2,618 were negative and 852 are pending.