The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 137 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday.
There are now 401 active cases in the county, with 81 people hospitalized and 27 in the Intensive Care Unit. Of the overall cases, 89% of patients have fully recovered.
The total number of cases in the county is 4,759, with 4,326 recovered and 32 deaths.
Santa Maria reported 69 new cases on Friday, tripling any other city in the county. Santa Barbara reported 19 new cases and Lompoc reported 18 new cases. The federal prison in Lompoc reported six new cases.
Goleta had four new cases as of Friday, while Isla Vista reported none. The communities of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria reported three new cases, and the unincorporated area of the Goleta Valley and Gaviota also reported three.
The Santa Ynez Valley had two new positive cases, and the city of Orcutt and the areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and Guadalupe each reported five new cases.
An update from Cottage Health on Friday also reported it is caring for a total of 255 patients across all campuses. The number of acute care patients is 196 and 177 acute care beds remain available.
At the virtual press conference held by the county on its COVID-19 response, Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, director of the Health Department, said that Santa Barbara County has a case rate that is 10 times higher than the state’s acceptable threshold.
In addition, the county’s testing positivity rate is at 9.6%, exceeding the state’s acceptable threshold of 8%. However, the county is steady in its hospitalization rate, meeting the threshold for available beds and ventilators.
Dr. Do-Reynoso stated that gatherings continue to be a significant issue, citing that 12% of cases reported attending a large gathering, work, bars, grocery stores, gyms, lake gatherings, beach gatherings, barbecues, funerals and birthday parties.
She added that the department has handled 352 complaints from the public regarding enforcement actions for businesses, the majority related to food facilities. The department issued four notices of violations, one notice of intent to suspend permit, held one hearing and “it all resulted well,” according to Dr. Do-Reynoso.
“I anticipate further modifications from the governor,” she said. “The governor is looking broadly at the state and will make modifications in the reopening effort.”
She concluded that 42% of cases in the county are from community spread and 50% are from person-to-person contact.
In regards to the outbreak at Alco Harvesting H2A farmworker housing, Dr. Do-Reynoso reported there are now 40 workers with confirmed positive cases in isolation and quarantine. They are continuing to monitor and investigate the situation.
When asked about the State Street promenade that has increased foot traffic, 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart said the correlation in people’s minds and State Street and the spread of the infection is “not a statistical correlation.”
“That might be an easy thing to look at and see, but the things that are invisible are causing the problem,” he said. “The focus of our attention needs to be on our individual and family behavior because that is the largest contributor to this challenge. And I think it’s a mistake to focus on the things that are visible and obvious as opposed to the things that are invisible and insidious.”
Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons, an infectious disease physician at Cottage Health, said that morale remains high at the hospitals for the most part. However, she said that while healthcare providers know more about the virus now than they did when the pandemic began, the longevity of this challenge is of concern.
“Compared to March, we know more about COVID, but protection after this infection may not last long,” Dr. Fitzgibbons said. “With COVID-19, some people either fail to make antibodies or some lose their neutralizing antibodies.”
She added that “herd immunity might not be an imminent solution.”