COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing title=
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing
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Van Do-Reynoso presenting to the Board of Supervisors

By edhat staff

Santa Barbara Public Health Department (PHD) shared data and models of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, expressing the extreme importance of social distancing cooperation.

PHD Director Van Do-Reynoso presented an update on COVID-19 during Tuesday morning's Board of Supervisors meeting which spurred a discussion of the social distancing timeline as models predict through November 2020.

Before launching into the results of the current modeling, Do-Reynoso explained these numbers are based on real-time data and are not set in stone.  "What I'm showing today is different than last week and will look different next week," she said. The long term projections are in a fluid state and may not provide precise data due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 infection transmission rates and how to appropriately gauge social distancing measures.

Approximately 15% of the county's population is age 65 or older, making them more likely to develop serious COVID-19 related health impacts. However, Santa Barbara County has a lower population density compared to Los Angeles or San Francisco, which proves to be an asset, reported Do-Reynoso.


The Penn Model is recommended by the California Department of Public Health and is used as a rough estimate of what to anticipate. For reference, the University of Washington Model does not allow for variables to be estimated by population or density, so it can only predict on a statewide and national level.

The biggest predictor is of how Santa Barbara County will fare is social distancing, the percentage in social contacts going forward. 

The Penn model uses the social distancing percentage and compares it with the number of available hospital beds. For example, if 40% of the population complies with the order, COVID-19 hospitalizations within the county are expected to peak on June 25 with nearly 1,200 hospitalizations. That's beyond the capabilities of currently available beds. With 45% social distancing compliance, the peak is expected on July 16 with 682 hospitalizations. With 50% compliance, it peaks on August 20 with 274 hospitalizations, and with 55% compliance, the curve is almost completely flat peaking on August 31 with 42 hospitalizations.

Do-Reynoso explained how this modeling helps for surge planning within hospitals, alternate care sites, and equipment acquisition.

The current surge capacity with the five hospitals within Santa Barbara County (Santa Barbara Cottage, Goleta Cottage, Santa Ynez Cottage, Lompoc Hospital, Marian Regional Medical) allows for 569 medical/surgical beds and 131 ICU beds, a total of 699 beds for COVID-19 patients.

Comparing the number of beds to the Penn Model graph, it shows we'll need at least 50% social distancing compliance to not overwhelm hospital capacity. At 40% compliance, it exceeds capacity, at 45% the gap is reduced, and at 50% its well within the current capacity of beds, however, access to ventilators is lacking. 

The key takeaway is how important social distancing is to flatten the bell curve so as not to overwhelm healthcare facilities. Do-Reynoso explained there is no exact way to measure how well the community is adhering to social distancing rules, but PHD uses analytics from Google and Unacast. Based on that data, Santa Barbara County is anywhere between 40-60% compliant. 

"That's the lack of preciseness in modeling, we don't have a hardcore gauge," said Do-Reynoso.

Alternate Care Sites & Medical Equipment

As of Monday, hospital beds throughout the county are at approximately 40% capacity with 50 unused ventilators. Of the total available hospital beds, 376 medical/surgical beds are available while 91 intensive care unit (ICU) beds are available.

PHD is looking to immediately secure 20 hotel rooms for COVID-19 discharged patients who cannot quarantine in their homes. By mid-April they hope to secure and additional 80 hotel rooms. 

There is currently enough materials for 300 additional beds at an alternate care site, as well as the capacity for 100 more. These sites have yet to be finalized but PHD is recruiting staff. If local hospitals reach a collective 50% surge capacity, approximately 350 COVID-19 beds occupied, the alternate care site will be activated.

There are currently 97 total ventilators with 100 more requested as well as 500 disposables. Additional ventilators and PPE are attempting to be purchased by the hospitals.

Social Distancing Timeline

Based on the model's current predictions, social distancing may continue through October. Do-Reynoso re-stated that these models are not exact and they change very rapidly. However, she started seeing indicators in models that show if a community is doing well and lets up on social distancing, the curve does not complete the bell shape going downwards and can actually increase.

Supervisor Peter Adam expressed his concern about the economy if social distancing were to extend until November. 

"If we go on until November, there's people that will be injured that don't get sick and I don't think were balancing the needs of those people trying to make a living out there very well. We're overfocused, maybe rightly so... but I just know there's a tremendous amount of pain being loaded into this system at this time that's largely undetectable because everyone is in their homes," said Adam.

Adam went on to express his concerns about the economy and suggested finding the people with the greatest risk and isolating them, likening the situation to throwing out the baby with the bathwater. 

"We should start those discussions sooner rather than later until we run into failure, or rebellion, or whatever, ya know... at some point, people are going to stop cooperating and I don't think it's gonna last until November and then if we get to the point where we have to start arresting people... that's not America," said Adam.

Do-Reynoso stated she's unsure if maintaining social distancing orders until November is feasible. "I think it's a conversation that needs to happen in a variety of contexts and a variety of settings so that we as a community can land on a solution that is doable and protects vulnerable members of the community as well as safeguarding healthcare system," she said.

Supervisor Gregg Hart chimed in at the end of the discussion stating these are projections that help with future planning and show the biggest takeaway is social distancing is really important and it works.

Do-Reynoso agreed and stated these models are helpful tools and the next 8-10 days will determine what PHD will need to do differently in terms of modeling and planning. 

Additional updates on COVID-19 and related items were presented at Tuesday's meeting and a subsequent press conference held by District Attorney Joyce Dudley. The summaries of the updates are provided below:


A representative from the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management stated during they Board of Supervisors meeting they are still working to secure sites in the south county area to serve the homeless population.

Last month a shelter was created in Santa Maria that generally houses 50 to 60 people but has hosted a maximum of 71 people. The county is supporting the shelter with food, security, laundry, and cleaning services.

A location in South County has yet to be determined as partnerships and staffing have not panned out as expected. Law enforcement is reporting an increase in close encampments and the county is working to separate those camps and provide housing and essential services. 


In a separate press conference on Tuesday, District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced they have received 11 reports of price gouging within the county. The DA's office has one full-time lawyer and one investigator assigned to these reports. In most cases, Dudley stated the increase was due to distributor costs passed on to the business owner, therefore not making it illegal. 

In terms of businesses not complying with the closure orders, Dudley states her office hasn't seen much of that as it appears most people are following the rules.


In a separate press conference on Tuesday, Sheriff Bill Brown reported the number of inmates at the County Jail continues to be much lower than previous years. There are currently 693 inmates whereas, on April 20, 2019, there were 933 inmates. There's also been a significant decrease in the number of arrests brought to the jail. From March 2019 to April 2019 there were 645 arrests, this year there were 300 arrests. 

Sheriff Brown also shared a positive story of local inmates helping healthcare facilities. In the jail's treatment program, a group of inmate volunteers has been making face shields for first responders and healthcare workers. They have currently assembled 800 face shields with the goal of making 2,400 shields in total. 

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LooseCannon Apr 08, 2020 09:13 AM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

Check your ASSumptions MATTYBOY: "Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed worry Tuesday evening that minorities and low-income residents are suffering most because they have a higher share of preexisting health conditions. Los Angeles County released preliminary information Tuesday that African Americans comprise 17 percent of deaths while they make up 9 percent of the residents." - Politico

LooseCannon Apr 08, 2020 09:10 AM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

Here's some actual data, SBDUDE, just reported in the LA Times: "L.A. releases first racial breakdown of coronavirus fatalities; blacks have higher death rate." Maybe you and your sidekick need to check your facts and ASSumptions. (

sbdude Apr 07, 2020 08:35 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

@LooseCannon , You might want to check your data before yelling at others to check their privilege. In LA, the highest concentration of cases is in the Downtown - West Hollywood - Beverly Hills - Santa Monica corridor, some of the most wealthy areas on the planet. Similarly in San DIego, La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe, Hillcrest, and Scripps Ranch have higher per capita rates than Chula Vista, National City, or El Cajon. Even in Ventura County, Port Hueneme and Oxnard both have *lower* per capita rates than Simi Valley or Thousand Oaks. Preconceived biases have a funny way of clouding over actual facts.

GrammaSB Apr 07, 2020 08:08 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

I am a minority too and live pay check to pay check what I meant was that money or no money you won't escape a possibly very bad ending. I don't stock pile and live within my means. I just wanted to create awareness across the board that our population vs availability of hospital care is worrisome. I as everyone else want this to be over soon and I am fearful of it as well. If I came across as a person of privilege I am not and I have health issues that are sensitive and regardless of socio economic status I have to deal with them. Have yourself a very blessed holy week and a nice evening stay healthy and safe.

LooseCannon Apr 07, 2020 07:41 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

"This virus doesn't discriminate, socio economic status doesn't matter it's basically first come first serve and then it goes by severity of symptoms what your level of care will be." Actually GRAMMSB, I hate to break it you, but the virus is impacting poor people and minorities way more than affluent white people, who are collecting their salaries, stockpiling enormous amounts of food, and binge-watching Netflix in the comfort of their large homes. In the meantime, working-class people, especially brown people, are traveling on public transport, washing their clothes in crowded laundromats, and buying groceries multiple times a week because they don't have money to stockpile groceries and often don't have large refrigerators and freezers, and in the event that the get ill, we certainly won't be able to avail ourselves of concierge private healthcare, so I would say to you, and people who think like you, it's time for you to CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE.

LooseCannon Apr 07, 2020 05:54 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

HOMELESS: "A location in South County has yet to be determined as partnerships and staffing have not panned out as expected. Law enforcement is reporting an increase in close encampments and the county is working to separate those camps and provide housing and essential services. "

Absolutely DISGRACEFUL that NIMBYism with respect to our homeless brothers and sisters is endangering the community at large. These people need to be safely housed, for their sake and ours.

a-1586363468 Apr 08, 2020 09:31 AM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

From what I have read there are few cases of covid-19 among the homeless. It may be that living outside is safer than living packed into a rescue place. And rather than criticize how unhomed folks are hanging out together, without the recommended physical distancing, let alone social distancing, these people are family to each other.

a-1586315183 Apr 07, 2020 08:06 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

@Pug... the dates are projections. No one knows the answer, we're all guessing where this thing might go. This is their hypothesis (best guess) at this point in time. Kinda how science works until there's a cure.

SBsurferlife Apr 07, 2020 06:19 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

Unsure what you perceive as fear mongering. This read like a nice summary of the facts and discussions presented in at the Supes mtg today. Deep breaths and "get over it." Ha, see what I did there?

Get over it Apr 07, 2020 06:07 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

No questions. I read and comprehend the article. I do thank you for the time and effort to inform the community. It just comes off as a bit of fear-mongering and stuff people who inform themselves already know. I get that is what media is and that not everyone stays informed and may need to know. Thanks again and sorry for being frustrated.

a-1586305650 Apr 07, 2020 05:27 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

Without testing for ALL they can’t attribute this to social distancing. It’s just as possible that a majority of people are only carriers, hence not being tested, which would greatly skew the numbers.

Sam The Dog Apr 07, 2020 04:54 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

For the PHD to even be talking about social distancing until November is irresponsible. 1) there is no way people will destroy the livelihoods of our entire town by keeping this up until November 2) just mentioning that this is the PHD's "goal" will cause a lot of people to say F-it and stop right now 3) their analysis ignores all the non-economic, negative health consequences of keeping this until November due to unhealthier lifestyles (more eating unhealthy foods and drinking, less exercise) the mental stress it places on all family members (which has a direct impact on health) and that's even for people that can keep working (imagine all the people with no job right now!?). 4) fails to acknowledge they have incomplete data going into their models due to limited tests and the up to 50% of the infected being asymptomatic and 5) a scaled tapering where those not high-risk are opened up first which won't have the same impact on the healthcare infrastructure. What would Sam do based on the info available today? Keep everyone locked down for April as testing facilities are ramped up, after that if your in the lower risk categories with no underlying issues come on back to work, we'll take care those that still need to stay home. With readily available testing we'll be able to pinpoint, isolate, and track contacts of any new infections that come up, while not risking a portion of the population that most likely would need those hospital beds. Only other way is a vaccine and that isn't in the card this year.

Edhat Staff Apr 07, 2020 05:14 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

@Samthedog, the article states these are projections for Public Health to assess surge planning and potential equipment needs. The officials expressed numerous times these numbers are not set in stone but show how effective social distancing is. -Edhat Staff

Edhat Staff Apr 07, 2020 05:10 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

@PugLuvr, Do-Reynoso was responding to Supervisor Adams about the social distancing mandate, essentially stating it's unclear what future requirements will be needed. She also expressed numerous times that these projections change frequently and are mostly used for surge planning.
-edhat staff

oppa Apr 07, 2020 04:37 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

So not impressed that this team, and especially Do-Reynoso, are NOT talking about how widespread testing is yet another prong of the solution! C'mon team please do the research on the areas of the world that are handling this MUCH better than this country. And with fewer restrictions on their citizens!

AdamVant Apr 07, 2020 04:32 PM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

Based on Wuhan virus modeling, March 25 Gavin Newsom said: “We project that roughly 56% of our population — 25.5 million people — will be infected with the virus over an eight week period.” So far there are 17,400 cases. 17,400 is just slightly less than 22-1/2 million. But keep on believing this modeling nonsense.

bigone Apr 08, 2020 10:10 AM
COVID-19 Modeling Displays Importance of Social Distancing

Adamvant and 88: You should mention the national model(s) put out by the IHME, which is being widely used both at the federal as well as state level, has proven to be vastly incorrect as well, based on actual data (reality) that is arriving. and is being rather drastically reduced almost daily in terms of both deaths and peak death dates. It now stands at 60,400 deaths by August from the original model at 240,000. As you mention, models and projections are just that, and not reality.


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