At the tail end of Wednesday’s daily Santa Barbara County Public Health Department press conference, Dr. Henning Ansorg gave a bit of insight into why residents might need to get ready for a long road to recovery.
As residents worry about losing homes and livelihoods, there is some push for a potential herd immunity — meaning that social distancing and stay-at-home measures are loosened in order to help a population become immune to a virus, usually needing 70-90% to be deemed successful — Dr. Ansorg was very pointed in his response.
“It’s not possible, otherwise we’d definitely go that way. It’s just not possible,” the PHD’s health officer said.
He further explained that in the absence of a vaccine — which is likely a year away from reality — the numbers just don’t work in the favor in pursuing the mass exposure.
“Just imagine right now, we have anywhere from 0.5 to 0.7% of the population been exposed in some way to the virus. That’s what our current understanding is from studies done in Europe and in China,” Dr. Ansorg said. “We currently have these studies going in Los Angeles and at Stanford, and we are expecting those results a bit closer to home, obviously, within two weeks.
“But it is definitely going to be less than 1% of the population. That leaves 99% being ready to catch the virus at any time. In order to go from less than 1% that are safe to get to 85% that are safe, that’s a lot of people.
“And that is just not possible without a vaccine and without some time.”
Santa Barbara County, by the numbers
The PHD announced an additional 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county, bringing the overall total to 334.
The new cases feature the eighth case of a person between 0-17, while also adding four to the 18-29 age bracket. Nine cases were in the 30-49 bracket, while six were in the 50-69 and one in the 70-plus.
Eight of the 21 new cases were in Santa Maria, while seven additional were in Lompoc, including one incarcerated person at the federal prison. Santa Barbara added two its total, as did the area of Montecito/Summerland/Carpinteria. Orcutt had one new case.
Santa Maria continues to lead the county with 81 cases, while there are 68 cases from those at the federal prison. There are 55 cases in Lompoc, 42 in Santa Barbara, 30 in Orcutt, 20 in Montecito/Summerland/Carpinteria, 15 in North County unincorporated areas, six in Goleta, five in Santa Ynez Valley and one in Isla Vista.
Of the 334 cases, 144 are recovering at home, 134 have fully recovered, 38 are in the hospital, with 15 in the intensive care unit.
Cottage Health, by the numbers
An update from Cottage Health, as of Wednesday:
- Cottage Health is caring for a total of 206 patients across all campuses.
- 154 are acute care patients; 219 acute care beds remain available.
- Of the 154 patients, 12 patients are on ventilators; 52 ventilators remain available (adult, pediatric and neonatal ventilators)
- Of the 154 patients, 18 are in isolation with COVID-19 symptoms; 14 are confirmed COVID-19 positive.
- Of 18 patients in isolation, 8 patients are in critical care.
- Cottage has collected 1,881 cumulative test samples: 154 resulted in positive, 1,651 resulted in negative, and 76 are pending. In most of these tests, patients did not require hospital admission.
COVID-19, by the numbers
A look at statewide, nationwide and worldwide numbers through Wednesday:
- In California, there are 27,097 cases, with 889 deaths, including 101 on Wednesday.
- Santa Barbara County dropped to 16th in the state in total cases, while Los Angeles County remains No. 1 with 10,517 confirmed cases and 405 deaths.
- In the United States, there are 639,628 confirmed cases, with 26,708 deaths and 47,763 fully recovered.
- Across the world, the total moved past 2 million, now sitting at 2,064,815 with 137,078 deaths.
I Madonnari festival canceled
Officials with the annual I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival announced that it would be canceling the festivities in 2020 due to COVID-19.
It is the first time in the 33-year history of the event that it had been canceled.
The event brings 25,000 annually to the steps of the Santa Barbara Old Mission.
“While we are all missing the loss of ‘normal,’ it is important to follow state and local recommendations regarding group gatherings and do our part to continue to slow the spread of this virus,” said CCP Executive Director Kathy Koury. “We look forward to presenting our festival again during the Memorial Day weekend in 2021.”
The festival is an annual fundraiser for the Children’s Creative Project, a nonprofit arts program within the Santa Barbara County Education Office.
“The Children’s Creative Project provides dynamic arts programming for 50,000 students in schools up and down Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties,” said Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido. “Our students and school communities look forward to experiencing the vibrant performances, school-based arts education, and hands-on workshops once campuses are re-opened.”
Santa Maria estimates $10 million in losses
The relative shutdown of the county is causing financial shortfalls for many cities, including Santa Maria. On Wednesday, the city estimated that it will lose $10 million in revenue due to the pandemic.
It indicated that it will likely lose $3.8 million before the end of the fiscal year in June, and projects and additional $6.5 in losses in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
That represents losses of 5% and 9%, respectively.
“This huge loss of revenues that pay for city services is as bad as it sounds,” Public Information Manager Mark van de Kamp said. “The city cannot sustain service levels or avoid impacts to its employees unless it gets outside help. We look forward to the economy reopening, when health authorities determine it is safe to do so.”
The city is looking into its own reserves, as well as other strategies to close the gap.
Santa Maria has already declared a local emergency, is under a hiring freeze, reducing costs and has furloughed 93 hourly workers to date.
Celebrating Lompoc’s Class of 2020
The Lompoc Unified School District will be surveying families of the Class of 2020 to figure out a way to honor the seniors that are unlikely to have a traditional graduation ceremony.
LUSD says it will send out the survey at the end of the month.
“High school graduation is a celebration of the 13 years of hard work and dedication of our seniors,” said Superintendent Trevor McDonald. “We want to honor their accomplishments and celebrate them as they move on to their next phase be it college or career.”