As Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 case rate continues to decline, the county will continue certain vaccination and testing efforts as well as bolster its local health department infrastructure.
Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, director of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, gave an update to the Board of Supervisors on how the county is faring and mitigating COVID Tuesday — and the presentation came exactly two years to the date when the county reported its first positive case.
Santa Barbara County saw the first peak in positive cases on July 11, 2020, with a case rate of 26.2 per 100,000 people. The delta peak occurred on Aug. 14, 2021, with a case rate of 31.3 cases, and the omicron peak was on Jan. 10, 2022, with a case rate of 258.1.
As of Tuesday, the case rate sits at 4.4 per 100,000 people with new and active cases declining from a two-week average.
The county reported two new deaths Tuesday, but both instances involved individuals who were 70 years old and had underlying health conditions, Dr. Do-Reynoso said.
Overall hospitalizations are also down from a two-week average.
Moving forward, the county health department said it would continue to maintain mobile vaccination programs, monitor immunization trends, consider the seasonality of surges, increase capacity within communities to conduct isolation on-site, and encourage utilization of state and federal programs as the main mechanism for testing of rural and isolated communities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health both recognize local health departments’ infrastructure needs to be bolstered, Dr. Do-Reynoso said. That involves increasing data capacity, communications, community relationships and staff training.
Funding has been earmarked for this work, which will last between one to three years, Dr. Do-Reynoso said.
Additionally Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to uphold an appeal of a Montecito Planning Commission’s denial of a lot line adjustment.
The planning commission denied a proposed property line adjustment between two legal lots in a single-family residential zone in a 2-2 vote in January 2020. The property owners of the two lots had wanted the line adjusted so an existing dwelling could be located solely on one lot as opposed to straddling the two as it is now.
“This actually increases the lot size of the parcel where the house exists right now so it will actually come into greater conformity with its neighbors through this process,”’ Supervisor Bob Nelson said. “So not only is this legal, I think this is actually good planning.”