While Ventura and Los Angeles counties are set to move into the state’s orange tier Monday, Santa Barbara County health officials say a recent uptick in local cases will hold the county back from moving into the next tier assignment until infection rates drop.
During a Friday press briefing, Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, county health director, said the county’s case rate must drop below 5.9 per 100,000 to qualify for the orange tier. Currently the county’s case rate is moving “upwards in the wrong direction,” she said.
“We must all be extra cautious at this time, and that means diligently practicing the masking, the social distancing and limiting gatherings,” Dr. Do-Reynoso said.
Officials are unsure of why cases are rising in the region but said they are seeing the highest uptick in cases among people in their 20s. Officials presume that the increase could be attributed to activities reopening and unvaccinated people beginning to socialize again.
Thus far, the public health department has received more than 194,000 vaccine doses for distribution. Earlier this week, officials began administering shots to people 50 and older at their vaccine clinics across the county in alignment with statewide vaccine eligibility expansion.
On April 12, the county will open vaccine appointments for residents 16 and older to receive shots at the county vaccination clinics. People can make an appointment by visiting publichealthsbc.org.
If the vaccine rollout continues and cases begin to decline, Dr. Do-Reynoso said Friday that the department anticipates reaching herd immunity sometime in July.
On Friday, the Public Health Department reported 53 new cases and one death. The individual who died was a resident of the unincorporated area around Goleta who was between ages 50 and 69 and had underlying conditions.
Officials reported 13 new infections in Santa Maria, 12 new infections in Lompoc and 11 new infections in Santa Barbara.
The unincorporated areas of Goleta Valley and Gaviota reported four new cases, and the unincorporated areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and the city of Guadalupe reported three new cases. All other areas reported fewer than two new cases on Friday.
A total of 26 people are receiving treatment at local hospitals, including 10 in the Intensive Care Unit. The county’s ICU availability was 25% as of Friday.
Cottage Health issued an update Friday and announced that it is caring for a total of 301 patients across all campuses, which includes 193 acute care patients. Of the acute care patients, seven are on ventilators, nine are in isolation with COVID-19 symptoms and nine others are confirmed to be COVID-19 positive.