The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 24 new COVID-19 cases and no deaths Tuesday, bringing the countywide total to 32,895 cases over the course of the pandemic.
Santa Maria reported the highest total of new infections Tuesday with a total of eight new cases. Lompoc had the second-highest case count with a total of four.
The cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Isla Vista, Orcutt and the North County unincorporated areas all reported fewer than four cases Tuesday. All other areas, including the Santa Ynez Valley, Montecito, Summerland, Carpinteria and the Gaviota Coast reported no new infections.
Some 168 cases remain active throughout the county. A total of 40 residents are receiving treatment at local hospitals, including 13 in the Intensive Care Unit.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office reported that another deputy tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the precinct’s active case count to two. In the Main Jail, there are currently no active COVID-19 cases.
As the U.S. vaccine rollout is an ongoing priority in the federal government, officials have been eyeing the AstraZeneca vaccine as a possible option for dissemination. However, just hours after the organization announced encouraging results about its recent vaccine trial in the U.S., a group of medical experts questioned the validity of AstraZeneca’s data.
The group sent a letter to AstraZeneca Monday, essentially accusing the company of highlighting certain pieces of data to make the vaccine look better.
“Decisions like this are what erode public trust in the scientific process,” the board wrote in the letter.
The brunt of the controversy surrounds discrepancies in the vaccine’s reported effectiveness. AstraZeneca reported that the vaccine is 79% effective against COVID-19, but the group of medical experts reported that the actual protection may be between 69 and 74 percent.
This controversy threatens to push back the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine for dissemination in the U.S., though the pharmaceutical company said the trial results are not final and they plan to analyze the data before submitting results to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks.