Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 cases have fallen 17% to nine cases per 100,000.
That’s according to Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, director of the Public Health Department, who gave an update Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors.
The cases must be six or less per 100,000, recorded in periods of two weeks, in order for indoor mask mandates to be rescinded.
“With the current standard, do you know of an area with a stricter standard?” Supervisor Bob Nelson asked Dr. Do-Reynoso.
“No I don’t,” responded Dr. Do-Reynoso.
The director continued to explain that the county may mirror other jurisdictions and use the metric of seven cases per 100,000 for three weeks rather than its current more strict metric.
When asked about the use of antivirals to treat COVID-19, Dr. Do-Reynoso happily told the Board the Public Health Department is moving forward with this treatment method.
“We are really excited about the prospect of antivirals being approved because ultimately it will prevent lives lost,” Dr. Do-Reynoso told the board. “It can prevent severe illness and poor outcomes.”
The issue of privacy in testing centers arose between the board and the Public Health Department. In order to get vaccinated, one must share their name, sex, gender and race.
“That’s not what we should be doing as a county,” Supervisor Nelson told the board. “I’m fine with a testing option, but there’s an invasion of privacy that we’ve ventured into.”
Dr. Do-Reynoso responded, “It’s for calculation. The tester is asking for demographics so we can track and see trends.”
The Public Health Department then confirmed with the board that this information is protected by HIPAA.
Looking to the future, the board inquired about the transition of COVID-19 from a pandemic to an endemic. Supervisor Steve Lavagnino noted that there is always work to be done, but Santa Barbara is trending positively overall.
“With regards to when we move from the pandemic to the endemic stage, that is a conversation that happens at the state level.” Dr. Do-Reynoso told the board. “Unfortunately, Santa Barbara may be in a better state but a lot of our colleagues are not seeing a case rate trending downward.”
Dr. Do-Reynoso added that Santa Barbara County will invariably be affected by the growing cases in Los Angeles.
Supervisor Williams concluded the meeting by voicing the importance of increasing the vaccinated population.
“The reason why vaccination is important is clear,” Supervisor Williams said. “Our case rate for vaccinated individuals is 3.3. Our case rate for unvaccinated individuals is 18.3. Whether it’s the mask mandate or other restrictions, the best way we can get out of this is to get people vaccinated.”