The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported its highest single-day number of COVID-19 cases Friday, announcing 61 new confirmed cases.
The county also reported two additional deaths related to the novel virus, bringing the county total to 18. Both victims were in their 70s and had underlying health conditions, with both residing in the city of Santa Maria, said Dr. Henning Ansorg, health officer for the county Public Health Department.
In total, the county has now confirmed 1,971 cases of COVID-19 throughout the county, including 1,664 cases that have fully recovered. Of the cases announced Friday, 45 were in Santa Maria and five were in the city of Santa Barbara. Two new cases were announced in Lompoc, two in areas of South County, which includes Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria, and two in the area near the city of Guadalupe. One case was announced in the city of Goleta, one in Isla Vista, one in Orcutt, and one at the federal prison complex in Lompoc. One additional case was pending.
Dr. Ansorg said that Friday’s total was an “artificially high number,” in that one of the county’s biggest labs experienced a lag of reporting that has since been resolved.
“Subsequently, 38 positive tests results were added to the tab as of last night. So our truly positive number for yesterday was closer to 23,” he said.
He further explained that a positive test result does not necessarily mean that the carrier is ill or even contagious. While the county initially triaged its testing focused on very sick patients due to a scarcity of testing supplies, the county has since opened up community testing sights for all members of the public to get tested.
“Subsequently, we have seen many more positive test results in absolutely healthy individuals who have not been symptomatic, not ill, due to COVID-19,” Dr. Ansorg said.
To understand whether the virus is spreading in the community, the county is looking at the hospitalization numbers and patients in Intensive Care Units. While earlier results showed as many as 18 patients in the ICU, the total as of Friday was 12.
Of the 218 active cases in the county, 167 are recovering at home and 51 are in the hospital. Some 57 cases are still pending information, according to the county data. Of the county total, 107 cases are healthcare workers.
“Yes, the virus is still spreading, however currently it appears that less people experience severe illness than our daily case reports might suggest,” Dr. Ansorg said, adding that the county is confident on its phased reopening.
Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, director of the Public Health Department, revealed that an outbreak at the Country Oaks Care Center in Santa Maria that started May 31. Currently 24 residents and 12 staff members have tested positive, with two residents hospitalized. Contact tracing has been completed and the state and medical reserve corps are supporting the facility with staffing until they are back to full capacity. Dr. Do-Reynoso also announced one confirmed COVID-19 case at Casa Dorinda in Santa Barbara.
“We are enjoying more freedom of movement as additional businesses and activities reopen. With increased freedom, each of us share the responsibility to keep our community healthy,” she said.