The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced Friday that two additional COVID-19 cases tied to the Delta variant were discovered this week at a UCSB virology lab.
The Delta variant has been labeled a “variant of concern” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s also become the world’s most dominant variant, gaining a foothold in nearly 85 nations, according to the World Health Organization.
In April, the USCB Virology Lab discovered two cases of the Delta variant in the county through variant surveillance, but no other samples were discovered in May or June.
After discovering the new samples, the Public Health Department will conduct thorough investigations into both new cases, according to a news release.
“These cases serve as a reminder that even as our progress continues towards the end, our community is still in a pandemic,” Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, the county Public Health Director, said in a statement. “We have a tried-and-true method of preventing severe illness and hospitalization from the COVID-19 Delta variant, and that is getting vaccinated. If you are eligible and have not yet been vaccinated, we urge you to get your first shot as soon as possible.”
The vaccines widely available in the U.S. have proven to be highly effective against the Delta variant, according to the CDC. With this in mind, public health officials are urging the community to get their shot and stay vigilant in practicing safety precautions.
“As we approach the upcoming holiday weekend, we advise all community members, whether vaccinated or not, to remain vigilant and practice the safety precautions that have led us in the right direction,” Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county Health Officer, said in a statement. “Stay home if you are ill, wear a mask in crowded indoor settings, keep events outdoors when possible and practice good hand hygiene.”
The California Department of Public Health is also urging parents to vaccinate eligible children before the start of the school year in the fall. According to a statement from CDPH, the vaccine takes about five weeks to reach immunity, and therefore, families with children heading back to school in August should get their vaccine series completed as soon as possible.
On Friday, the county public health department reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths. The county’s current active case total stands at 54 infections.
Three new infections were reported in both Santa Maria and Lompoc on Friday, and two infections were reported in Goleta. One new case was reported in both the Santa Ynez Valley and the North County unincorporated areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama and New Cuyama and the city of Guadalupe.
As of Friday, 58.8% of eligible county residents 12 and older were fully vaccinated, and 67.3% of that population had received at least one shot. Of the entire county, 49.8% of residents are fully vaccinated.