COVID-19 Cases Trend Down But Still Too High Says Public Health
By edhat staff
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) confirms COVID-19 cases are trending downward in the county, but the county is still ranked 11th in the state for high cases.
In the last two weeks, the daily count of active cases decreased by 50% from 2,568 to 1,288 with a peak on January 13th at 3,256 cases. From January 14-28, most areas of the county show a decrease in cases, except for a 16% increase in Isla Vista, stated PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.
Hospitalizations decreased from 208 to 170 in the past two weeks, however, deaths increased by 29% with 67 deaths reported within this period. Intensive care unit (ICU) availability has increased from 7% to 17.1% as of Monday.
Dr. Do-Reynoso addressed the downward trend in almost all COVID-19 metrics, but stated the county levels are still at an "unacceptably high level" and the county is still "besieged by COVID-19." While there is more ICU availability, it's still low and of concern, she said.
Santa Barbara County is currently ranked 11th out of the state's 58 counties for the number of new cases per 100,000 population. Yesterday the county was ranked 9th in a tie with Merced and much larger counties such as Orange, San Diego, and San Joaquin fall far behind Santa Barbara.
The county's COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 on Tuesday is 63.8 but was adjusted downward to 47.2 by the state due to the county's increased testing measures. The testing positivity rate is 11.2 and the health equity metric is 16.7.
"We are solidly in the purple tier," said Dr. Do-Reynoso while urging residents to double down on diligence to decrease cases.
The county will need to achieve 25 cases per 100,000 to open schools. Less than 7 cases per 100,000, less than 8% testing positivity, and less than 8% health equity will be needed for the county to be eligible for the less restrictive red tier.
With Superbowl Sunday occuring this weekend, Dr. Do-Reynoso urged residents to limit gatherings as the county is still recovering from the virus spread caused by winter holiday gatherings.
On Tuesday, PHD reported 181 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths. All five individuals were over 70 years of age and four had underlying health conditions. Two of the deaths were associated with outbreaks at congregate facilities. Two individuals resided in Lompoc, two were from Santa Maria, and one lived in the North County Unincorporated Area.
The death toll has now reached 303.
There are currently 1,254 active cases within the community. Of those, 161 are hospitalized including 48 in the ICU. The county's ICU availability is at 14.5%.
PHD is working with six local elementary school districts on their reopening applications for when the time comes. Lompoc, Buellton, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Vista del Mar, and Orcutt unified school districts have all been in contact with public health, said Dr. Do-Reynoso.
Districts need a COVID-19 Safety Plan submitted to PHD and a COVID-19 Prevention Plan submitted to the California Division Of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA).
PHD is assisting all school districts to have a safety plan in place and ready to go when the county's COVID-19 case rate is below 25 per 100,000 population, the benchmark needed to reopen schools in the purple tier.
There are no guidelines available for high schools at this time.
Vaccine Distribution Update
Santa Barbara County was alloted a total of 51,375 vaccines with Marian Regional Medical Center receiving approximately 8,500 additional doses from the state as it serves both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County residents. An additional supply of 6,550 doses are expected to deliver on Tuesday.
These were distributed throughout the county to hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and health care providers. There have been 38,334 doses, approximately 86%, of the vaccine administered to qualifying residents.
Additional data is available at https://publichealthsbc.org.