COVID-19 cases continue to pile up in Santa Barbara County, leading to what health officials have described as a “dire straits” situation.
The county Public Health Department reported an additional 364 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the county’s total to 23,538 cases, including 2,786 that remain active. Five additional deaths were also reported, bringing the county’s death toll to 228.
Since the holidays, the county’s COVID-19 numbers have grown “exponentially,” Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, director of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, said during Friday’s press conference.
The county’s effective reproduction number, which is the number of people who can be infected by one individual case, was at 1.27 on Friday, marking the highest number in the state.
“In other words, the rate of COVID-19 spreading is higher in Santa Barbara County than any other jurisdiction in Southern California,” she said. “These are really grim numbers. Extremely, extremely concerning.”
Compared to before the holidays, the county has seen daily cases triple, testing positive rate double and COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU patients have experienced a four-fold increase. The county’s case rate was at nearly 90 per 100,000 as of Friday, Dr. Do-Reynoso said.
She encouraged people to get the vaccination when they are eligible, while also calling for residents to do all they can to curb the spread in the meantime.
In regards to vaccinations, Dr. Do-Reynoso shared that next week the county will begin vaccinations for those 75 and older. As soon as more vaccines become available from the state, vaccinations will then begni for those over the age of 65.
“We fully support the prioritization of those over the age of 65 and look forward to the receipt of additional vaccines to meet the current demand,” Dr. Van Do-Reynoso said in a statement. “With adequate supply and through community partnerships, we can continue to move through the vaccination tiers and continue to offer vaccinations for our priority populations.
Medical providers who are approved to administer the vaccination will be contacting eligible patients to schedule vaccination appointments. While the county is increasing efforts to get vaccines administered, there continues to be a limited supply of the vaccine and people may not receive an immediate appointment. Medical providers will have the flexibility to begin vaccinations for people ages 80 and older based on their staffing and vaccine resources, officials said.
Vaccinations will also be made available at each of the public health community vaccination points of distribution, which are located throughout the county. For reference, there are over 32,000 county residents 75 years of age and older. The county Public Health Department vaccine distribution sites will have approximately 1,200 total vaccines available during their first four days of vaccination. This does not include vaccine available at healthcare clinics. More appointments will become available as more vaccine arrive, officials said.
Vaccine appointment registration for those community members 75 years of age or older can be accessed by visiting https://publichealthsbc.org/covid-19-vaccine-appointment-registration/.
Santa Barbara County will continue to vaccinate its frontline healthcare workers in Phase 1A, tiers 1, 2 and 3.
“The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as sufficient quantities become available” Dr. Do-Reynoso said.
Until that time, Santa Barbara County Public Health and health care providers are vaccinating in order of priority based on supply.
If you are 65 to 74 years of age, the health department and local healthcare providers will soon be inviting you to be vaccinated. You can expect to receive communication from your local health care provider when they have a vaccine available and your group is eligible to receive it. Additionally, the health department will send information via press release, vaccine newsletter, website update, social media, etc. when further groups, including yours, are eligible to be vaccinated. If you have questions, please call 2-1-1 or visit www.publichealthsbc.org/vaccine.
Four of the deaths announced Friday were individuals over the age of 70, and one was between 50 to 69 years old. Three had underlying medical conditions and one death was associated with an outbreak at a congregate facility.
Two of the decedents were from the city of Santa Maria, two from the city of Lompoc and one from Orcutt, officials said.
The city of Santa Barbara reported 120 new cases on Friday, bringing its total to 4,051 cases. Of those, 669 remain active.
The city of Santa Maria reported 85 new cases, bringing its total to 8,354. Of those, 831 remain active.
The South County unincorporated area of Montecito, Summerland and the city of Carpinteria reported 31 new cases, bringing its total to 860, with 188 still active.
Thirty-one new cases were also reported in the city of Lompoc, which now has 2,417 cases, 277 of which are active.
Other daily totals from Friday included: Goleta, 19 new cases (1,151 total, 165 active); Santa Ynez Valley, 16 new cases (651 total, 108 active); unincorporated area of the Goleta Valley and Gaviota, 15 new cases (770 total, 100 active); Orcutt, 10 new cases (1,288 total, 154 active); unincorporated areas of Sisquc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and the city of Guadalupe, 10 new cases (930 total, 69 active); and Isla Vista, four new cases (758 total, 42 active).
No new cases were reported at the federal prison complex in Lompoc, and the geographic region for 23 cases was pending on Friday.
A total of 192 people are receiving treatment in local hospitals, including 52 in the Intensive Care Unit. As of Friday the county’s ICU availability was at 1.3%, and the Southern California region’s availability remained at 0%.
Cottage Health issued an update on Friday, announcing that it is caring for a total of 291 patients across all campuses. Of those, 197 are acute care patients, 20 of whom are on ventilators. Some 96 acute care patients are in isolation with COVID-19 symptoms and 90 are confirmed COVID-19 positive.
Nineteen patients in isolation are in critical care, and as of Friday, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital’s adult critical care availability capacity was at 20%.
Lompoc Valley Medical Center also issued an update, announcing that earlier this week it began vaccinating Lompoc Valley residents 75 or older. Approximately 1,000 individuals were expected to be vaccinated by the end of the day Friday, with more scheduled to receive the vaccine next week.
All residents within the Lompoc Healthcare District, typically within the Lompoc Valley, over the age of 75 may receive a vaccination regardless of where they receive medical care.
Starting Monday, residents who do not have a Lompoc Health primary care physician may contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 805-875-8909 and a representative will contact you within three business days to schedule a vaccination appointment.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department announced Friday that 28 additional inmates and nine personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week.
This brings the total number of inmates testing positive at the County Jail during the pandemic to 154 and the total number of Sheriff’s Office employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic to 97, said Raquel Zick, sheriff’s spokeswoman.
Five of the inmates tested positive during intake screening, and two have since been released from custody. The remaining 23 are part of an outbreak currently being managed in one of the housing units within the main jail. All inmates in the associated housing areas were screened and offered testing. All COVID-19 positive inmates are either housed in negative pressure housing areas or housed separately from the general population. All of the affected housing areas are being quarantined and closely monitored by medical staff. The current number of active COVID-19 positive inmates in the Main Jail is 49, Ms. Zick said.
The county Probation Department announced Friday that one staff member assigned to the department’s Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, one staff member assigned to the Los Prietos boys camp have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as one youth who was booked into SMJH.