Health Officials Report Dramatic Increase in COVID-19 Cases
By edhat staff
Santa Barbara County Public Health officials are reporting a "dramatic increase" in COVID-19 cases due to unvaccinated residents.
During a press conference on Tuesday, officials stated the county's case rate increased by 400% in one month.
Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg expressed frustration against those who choose not to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines when it's now easily accessible.
"I am saddened to report that Santa Barbara County is experiencing a dramatic increase in new COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. I am particularly saddened and upset because all of this is 100% preventable," said Dr. Ansorg.
Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso confirmed local numbers are increasing in a "very rapid manner in the span of two weeks."
Santa Barbara County active COVID-19 cases increased by 70% to 303 from a two-week average of 179. Additionally, hospitalizations increased by 71% and the testing positivity rate reached 5.3%.
Dr. Do-Reynoso also confirmed eight COVID-19 outbreaks across the county. One location is a homeless shelter in Santa Maria and the other is a school in the South County with 23 positive cases, mostly students.
If the state was still using the color-coded tier system, Santa Barbara County would be at the brink of the purple tier, she said.
Nearly 52% of the county's entire population is fully vaccinated and 61% of those that are eligible. Approximately 149,600 county residents are unvaccinated.
Dr. Ansorg confirmed 80% of new positive cases and all hospitalizations were unvaccinated people. Approximately 20% of new COVID-19 cases were among vaccinated people although none required hospitalization most had zero to minimal symptoms.
While addressing "breakthrough" infections, Dr. Ansorg stated, "what we are seeing so far is that asymptomatic, vaccinated people do not seem to spread the virus."
Dr. Do-Reynoso stated the Public Health Department will consider reinstating the mask mandate if the numbers continue to consistently increase, but for now, they're content issuing advisories and encouraging vaccination.
On Tuesday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a change to its masking recommendations as it grows more concerned over the Delta variant of Covid-19, urging vaccinated people in certain areas of the country to resume wearing masks indoors in public areas.
People living in areas with "high" or "substantial" Covid-19 transmission should resume wearing masks indoors, said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. This is nearly two-thirds of counties in the United States.
For those who are unvaccinated, the guidance remains the same, continue to wear a mask until receiving the vaccine.
The CDC's latest guidance also recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.