County ICU Availability Falls to 0% with Highest COVID-19 Numbers in Single Day
By edhat staff
The Public Health Department (PHD) reports the Santa Barbara County intensive care unit (ICU) availability has now fallen to 0% as the county reported its highest COVID-19 in a single day.
Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said the situation in Santa Barbara County is now "dire."
"In light of our current situation, I am at a loss. I honestly don't know what to say anymore. Many people are blatantly disregarding all warnings," he said during a press conference on Tuesday.
On Monday alone there were 456 new COVID-19 cases, six deaths, and 1,949 active cases. All of these metrics were at the highest level the county has ever seen been since the beginning of the pandemic, said PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso.
Graph of daily COVID-19 cases from March to present-day (Source: SBC Public Health)
On Tuesday, an additional 341 new cases and seven deaths were reported. All individuals were over 70 years of age, five had underlying health conditions, and four were associated with an outbreak at a congregate living facility. Two individuals resided in the City of Santa Barbara, two were from the City of Santa Maria, one resided in the City of Goleta, one resided in the unincorporated area of Goleta, and one in the Santa Ynez Valley.
This brings total deaths to 173. The active case count is now 2,105 with 172 hospitalizations including 55 in the ICU.
Dr. Do-Reynoso stated hospitals are running out of staffed ICU beds and started using surge beds a few days ago as the county's capacity is now below 1%. Hospitals are now preparing for crisis care, meaning, a person with health needs other than COVID-19 may not receive the health care they'd normally expect.
Hospitals surge protocol works to repurpose staff and rooms to accommodate infectious patients while and discharging patients in a timely fashion while also working with ambulances to determine who really needs emergency care and who can be redirected, said Dr. Ansorg.
Additionally, the testing positivity and case rates are at record highs, nearly seven-times the threshold for the widespread transmission threshold to reopen businesses. In December alone there have been 28 outbreaks in businesses in nearly every sector and 48 outbreaks at congregate care settings.
"What used to be less risky is now risky given the widespread infection in our county," said Dr. Do-Reynoso.
Officials reaffirmed, yet again, that the increase in cases and deaths is directly related to travel and gathering during the holidays. The current spike is directly attributed to Thanksgiving while we have yet to see the spike from the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
"I understand that people are tired of the pandemic, however, denial of the facts only makes things worse. There are behaviors that are most risky for instance traveling and gathering especially when not wearing masks," said Dr. Ansorg.
Graph of staffed adult ICU bed availability from August 2020 to December 2020 (Source: SBC Public Health)
Santa Barbara County has administered 54% of its vaccine allotment so far, said Dr. Do-Reynoso. PHD is currently focusing on Phase 1a that vaccinates acute care healthcare workers, staff and residents in long term care setting serving older and high risk, EMS personnel, and dialysis center staff.
PHD has 42 approved vaccination sites as providers are ramping up their logistics preparing for distribution. By next week PHD is planning to offer 350-500 vaccines per day culminating in 1,000 doses per day by early February.
The community at large is expected to be able to receive the vaccine by March or April.
More information about vaccine distribution can be found at https://publichealthsbc.org/vaccine/.