Although COVID-19 cases throughout Santa Barbara County continue to decline, the county Public Health Department continues to face a vaccination shortage.
The county is currently vaccinating residents 75 years of age and older, as well as health care and emergency services employees.
California Department of Public Health’s guidance is to vaccinate 65 and older, but because of the scarcity of vaccines, Santa Barbara County officials decided to focus on the most vulnerable.
Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso said Cottage Health has a vaccine waitlist of around 11,000, and Sansum Clinic has 8,000 eligible recipients on its list. Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria is accepting vaccination appointments.
The county doesn’t have enough allocated yet to fulfill the waitlists. If it didn’t receive any more weekly shipments from the state, it would not have enough to give the second doses to previous patients (a highly unlikely scenario explored in the Board of Supervisors meeting).
“California is getting less than 600,000 doses a week to distribute. So that’s a pretty finite, very limited number, that they are then distributing to the counties. And so all counties are feeling the scarcity of vaccines,” she said.
Approximately 6,000 doses are shipped to Santa Barbara County each week.
Some counties received notice from the state that they will receive fewer shipments until they speed up distribution. Santa Barbara County was not one of the penalized counties.
She also mentioned that those who have recently overcome COVID-19 can delay getting a vaccine. Others without antibodies would then be able to get the vaccine sooner.
Santa Barbara County’s case rate, adjusted by the state, is 47.2 daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. Elementary schools can reopen when the rate reaches 25, and the county would reach the red tier when the county’s case rate is at or below seven per 100,000 residents.
“We’re seeing a downward trend in our adjusted case rate at 47.2 daily new cases per 100,000,” Dr. Do-Reynoso said. “However, I just want to underscore that this is still at a very unacceptable, high level. And it describes that we are still besieged by COVID-19.”
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 181 cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. Of the 29,009 total cases, 1,254 are considered active. The number of active cases has decreased steadily since its peak Jan. 13.
Dr. Do-Reynoso said Tuesday that active cases have decreased by roughly 50% in the past two weeks.
But total COVID-19 deaths have increased 29%, with 67 fatalities in two weeks.
Tuesday, officials reported five new COVID-19 deaths, increasing the total to 303 deceased. All five deaths were with individuals of at least 70 years of age. Four had underlying health conditions, and two were associated with an outbreak at a congregate living facility.
Two of the deceased lived in Lompoc; two lived in Santa Maria, and one was from the North County unincorporated area of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and the city of Guadalupe.
Santa Maria reported the most COVID-19 cases Tuesday, with 87 cases. It has a total of 9,980 cases, and 369 are still infectious.
Santa Barbara reported 33 cases, increasing its total to 5,276 cases. Officials deem 283 cases active.
The South County area of Montecito, Summerland and the city of Carpinteria reported nine new cases. It has a new total of 1,136 cases, and 86 of those are infectious.
The Santa Ynez Valley also reported nine cases Tuesday. Its new total is 842 cases, of which 36 are active.
The following areas also reported daily cases: Lompoc, eight cases (2,992 total, 111 active); the North County area containing Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and the city of Guadalupe, seven cases (1,118 total, 39 active); Isla Vista, six cases (1,012 total, 83 active); the unincorporated areas of the Goleta Valley and Gaviota, six cases (975 total, 52 active); Orcutt, six cases (1,522 total, 54 active).
The geographic locations of eight daily cases are pending.
Across Santa Barbara County, hospitals are caring for 161 patients with COVID-19. Of those, 48 are in critical care. The county has 14.5% of its ICU beds available.
Cottage Health announced Tuesday that 79 patients are in isolation with COVID-19 symptoms, though 72 are confirmed COVID-19 positive.
A staff member at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall tested positive for COVID-19, the probation department reported Tuesday.
The staff member was tested Jan. 26 and last worked Jan. 25.
The department conducted contact tracing and tested all youth and staff, who all tested negative.