The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 58 new cases of COVID-19 during Friday’s press conference and also confirmed the 69th death in the county.
According to Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, the county’s public health director, the decedent was over the age of 70 with underlying health conditions.
The individual was from the city of Santa Maria, which has 37 deaths in the county, the most of any city.
Additionally, Dr. Do-Reynoso and 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart reminded the public that the current COVID case numbers being reported are “significantly underreported” following a technological error with the state’s CalREDIE system .
“The State of California announced today it had identified the sources of the technological failures and hoped the system would be back online early next week. In the meantime, our county Public Health Department is working very hard to fill this gap by manually recording local case data,” Mr. Hart said.
“We are cautiously optimistic the state’s data collection platform will soon resume reporting accurate comprehensive local and state case data as soon as next week.”
Dr. Do-Reynoso added that the state, over the next few days, will attempt to backlog 250,000 to 300,000 records. Not all records are related to coronavirus cases.
Some of the backlog might include duplicates as well.
“CDPH (California Department of Public Health) will be making upgrades to servers to avoid future outages and they now have a redundant system to validate the reports,” Dr. Do-Reynoso said.
Patient care and test results were not affected by the errors, as laboratories are still providing positive results directly to providers and hospitals. Hospitalizations and death rates have also not been affected.
“We are providing you with the best information that we currently have. I want to stress that our local data is underreporting of the actual number of tests performed, the case rate and the testing positivity rates, until the state resolves their data issues with electronic lab records and CalREDIE,” Dr. Do-Reynoso said.
With the 58 new cases, the county now has a total of 6,704 cases with 198 of those being considered active.
There are 84 people recovering in the hospitals with 29 being taken care of in the Intensive Care Unit.
The majority of the cases announced Friday were out of Santa Maria, which announced 26 new cases and has now surpassed 3,000 total cases with 3,012, the most in the county.
Additionally, 73 cases are active in Santa Maria. No other city has more than 37 active cases.
Lompoc reported eight new cases on Friday while Santa Barbara and Isla Vista both reported five new cases.
Santa Barbara now has 876 total cases while Isla Vista has seen a spike in the last couple of days.
At the start of this week, I.V. had 53 cases. Currently, the small town located right next to UCSB now has 74 cases, 20 of which are active.
“We were informed by UCSB of the large gatherings in Isla Vista because the dormitories at UCSB are closed. A lot of students who remain live in Isla Vista (live) in private homes, oftentimes, 12 to 15 people sharing an apartment so social distancing is not really an option under those circumstances, and that is the reason for significant outbreak in some residences in Isla Vista,” said Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s public health officer.
He added he has no explanation as to why there is a sudden rise in cases now as opposed to the last few months.
Dr. Ansorg, along with the city of Santa Barbara, also reminded residents to avoid any type of gatherings.
A gathering is defined as any event or convening that brings people together in a single room or single indoor or outdoor space at the same time.
“With the beginning of the yearly tradition of Old Spanish Days Fiesta in Santa Barbara, it is very important for people to remember that gatherings of any size are not safe,” Dr. Ansorg said.
“Mixing and mingling is the most common way that COVID-19 is spread to others.”
He added that even simple things, such as backyard barbecues and other social events with friends and extended family, have been some of the most common ways the virus has spread.
“Please avoid all activities that will lead to close contact or that would promote congregating. Please wear face covering and maintain your distance from others. Enjoy the many virtual opportunities to share Fiesta through televised activities,” Dr. Ansorg said.
As a whole, the United States surpassed 160,000 total deaths this week. Mr. Hart used this statistic to continually remind community members that this disease should still be in the front of everyone’s minds.
“If the current trend continues, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could exceed 300,000 people by the end of the year. This would make COVID-19 the third highest leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer, and a bigger killer than accidents, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease,” Mr. Hart said.
He also added that even when cases plateau, hopefully soon, as well as hospitalizations and deaths, people must not become overly confident and feel that they are “past this disease.”
“From the status of the coronavirus around the globe… we must avoid the roller coaster effect, feeling that we are past the need for physical distancing and wearing face coverings,” Mr. Hart said.
“Until there is a widely available vaccine for COVID-19, we must accept the reality, the virus is with us, and we must consistently take steps to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbors.”