After nearly three weeks since the onset of the coronavirus crisis in Santa Barbara County, the community is mourning its first loss after the Public Health Department announced Wednesday that a patient in their 60s with underlying health conditions had succumbed to the illness at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of this patient,” said Dr. Henning Ansorg, the PHD’s health officer. “While we have expected more cases, this death is an unfortunate milestone in our efforts to fight this disease, and one that we never wanted to see.
“While most cases of COVID-19 exhibit mild or moderate symptoms, this tragic death underscores the urgent need for us to take extra steps to protect residents who are particularly vulnerable to developing more serious illness, including elderly persons and those with underlying health conditions.”
Dr. Ansorg would also announce 12 new cases of COVID-19 in the county, bringing the area’s total to 111.
Of the new cases, six are between 30-49, two are 18-29, two more are 50-69 and the final two are 70-plus.
For the third consecutive day, the bulk of the new cases are from North County, with three in Santa Maria, two in Lompoc, two in the unincorporated areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyuma and Guadalupe, and one in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Santa Barbara and Goleta each added one case.
Cottage Health unveils updated numbers
While the county has continued to release data in a methodic, once-per-day system, various hospitals have started to provide their own updates, with Cottage Health now efforting daily summaries.
On Wednesday, the hospital broke down an extensive amount of numbers that they are currently addressing.
- Cottage caring for 135 patients; 238 beds remain available
- Cottage has identified capacity for adding 270 acute care beds
- Of the 135 patients, 11 patients are on ventilators; 49 ventilators remain available (adult, pediatric and neonatal ventilators)
- Of the 135 patients, 26 patients are in isolation for COVID-19 symptoms
- Of the 26 patients in isolation, seven patients are in critical care
- Cottage has collected 1,046 cumulative test samples: 52 resulted in positive, 790 resulted in negative, and 204 are pending.
Cottage Health is also trying to increase its bandwidth by connecting with retired nurses and physicians.
“We are finding solutions so essential healthcare workers can work while others isolate at home: providing daycare, enabling remote work where applicable, cross-training employees, hiring more employees and utilizing partner resources for staffing,” the news release said.
COVID-19 testing continues to be an issue across the board, with Cottage Health reiterating that it is only testing “high-risk individuals,” while also deploying a “rapid triage plan” that is used by the hospital emergency departments that either sends patients home to self-monitor or hospitalize and test.
On Wednesday, the PHD indicated that it had ordered 200 tests that they expected to receive shortly. It is unclear whether this is a maximum number of tests the county could request.
Cottage Health is having to continue to conserve its personal protective equipment, with the Infection Prevention & Control Department working closely with care teams to conserve equipment.
“Getting additional supplies continues to be a challenge,” the release said.
The equipment donation center that has been set up at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital is changing its hours to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, effective immediately.
As a reminder, Cottage is looking to acquire the following:
- Faces shields (single use or non-disposable)
- Eye shields (single use or non-disposable)
- Isolation gowns or standard level 3 gowns
- N95 masks
- N99 masks
- Standard procedure masks
- Re-usable P100 / N95 respirators and cartridges/filters
- Respirator hoods or hazmat hoods
- Hand-sewn cloth masks will be accepted
Another SB County Sheriff tests positive
A sixth Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputy has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the latest recovering at home.
The deputy is assigned to the Santa Maria station and last worked on March 28, with the onset of symptoms occurring the following day. The deputy was tested on Monday and received the positive result on Tuesday.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, no one else has been isolated due to this positive test.
Law enforcement cases are drawing a lot of attention, mostly due to the 1,400 positive tests within the New York Police Department, with hundreds more out sick.
COVID-19, by the numbers
A look at the updated numbers surrounding the coronavirus pandemic:
- The number of positive COVID-19 cases in California grew by 1,109 in one day, now reaching 9,757 overall. There have been 213 deaths, including 32 reported on Wednesday.
- Los Angeles County saw its death toll reach 66 on Wednesday, with 3,524 confirmed cases. The following counties have reported double-digit deaths: Santa Clara (32), San Diego (15), Riverside (13), Orange (10) and San Mateo (10).
- The United States now has 216,515 cases, which is nearly double that of Italy, who is second to the U.S. in number of cases. The number of deaths now near 5,000, with more than 1,200 in New York City alone.
- There are 937,170 cases worldwide with 47,235 deaths.
DMV extensions for senior drivers
With many seniors confined to their homes due to the governor’s executive order, the Department of Motor Vehicles announced Wednesday that seniors (ages 70 and older) with an expiring driver license would receive a 120-day extension in the mail.
A paper license extension will be mailed in the next two weeks.
Also, those with safe driving records whose last DMV visit was 15 years ago will not be required to renew in person for the next 60 days and can renew via online or mail.
“Today’s actions ensure hundreds of thousands of Californians can keep their driver license current while following the state’s stay at home request,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said. “The health and safety of our employees and customers is the DMV’s top priority. We encourage customers to take advantage of our online services whenever possible, including for eligible driver license or vehicle registration renewals.”
Ranchero Visitadores canceled
With the national social-distancing mandate extended through April 30, more events around town continue to be canceled, including the popular Rancheros Visitadores.
The 90th annual ride was scheduled for May 2, with the day featuring more than 750 rancheros from 37 states and six countries.
The ride, featuring plenty of pink on horseback and carriages, normally makes its way down Alisal road through downtown Solvang to Old Mission Santa Ines.
The ride has already raised $188,000 for breast cancer programs at Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, with efforts continuing to add to that.
The 77th Annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade has been pushed to later in the year, with officials announcing Wednesday that the new dates would be Sept. 24-27.
A number of activities surrounding the weekend have been rescheduled, all of which can be found at elksrec.com.
State superintendent announces district funding
More than $100 million in funding will be distributed to “local educational agencies,” according to California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
The funding comes via Senate Bill 117, one of two COVID-19 emergency bills passed by the California legislature in mid-March.
According to a news release, the “priority for these funds is health and safety needs for LEAs, including student meal access, during COVID-19 closure periods.”
Mr. Thurmond was pleased with the expedited nature of the funds becoming available.
“I am very grateful to the members of the state legislature for their rapid response in providing this essential funding to assist LEAs during this very challenging time. These funds will allow district administrators to ensure that sites are properly cleaned and sanitized, keep school staff safe, provide nutritious meals, and focus on implementing a distance learning infrastructure that is equitable and accessible to all students,” Mr. Thurmond said.
The criteria to receive funds are that the LEA had to be operational on March 4, and the funds will be based on the average daily attendance from February 2020.