Health Officials Update Community on COVID-19
By edhat staff
Santa Barbara County health officials held a press conference Monday evening to answer questions and calm the community about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
County Supervisor Gregg Hart opened by acknowledging the anxiety everyone is feeling stating this is a very serious event. "Elected officials and fully committed to doing everything we can to adapt to this rapidly changing environment," said Hart. "Heed the recommendations and mandates from the local public health department."
Santa Barbara County Public Health Department Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso reminded community members to practice social distancing as it is essential to slow the progression of the virus.
Officials reiterated the previous reports of one person testing positive for COVID-19, a male in his 60's located in the Santa Maria area, as well as five UC Santa Barbara students quarantined in Isla Vista. Test results are expected to become available within the next two days for the quarantined students.
As of Monday at 2:40 p.m., there were 128 tests used within Santa Barbara County to detect COVID-19 in specific patients. Of those tests, there was 1 positive as mentioned above, 31 negatives, and 96 are currently pending.
Do-Reynoso stated these numbers are underreported as they're still waiting for data from one hospital and two private labs.
Santa Barbara County has over 1,700 testing kits available. Due to the limited number, officials state it is extremely available to focus on symptomatic patients. The area's five hospitals and community clinics determined a three-tier system for providers to assess who will receive testing.
Those in Tier 1 will receive testing first. This group consists of elderly people living in assisted living homes, nursing facilities, or senior communities. Anyone who works in the healthcare or first responder industry: doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, police officers, etc. will also receive care first due to the community relying on their services. Also, people who are hospitalized and must be isolated in negative pressure rooms will have their test results fast-tracked in order to mitigate the potential shortage of pressure rooms, said Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg.
Tier 2 will include severely ill people with underlying health conditions. Tier 3 will include people who are mildly ill where the treatment would include isolation at home until medically cleared.
"We would like to have everyone tested but at the moment we cannot afford it. In the next 10 days we hope for more availability of testing," said Ansorg. "I urge people to understand this is out of our hands, there are nationwide and global shortages of important ingredients in these test kids and swabs."
Two community healthcare partners are organizing drive-by testing centers. However, this is meant for patients who have been previously screened and met medical criteria. The collection of samples done in parking lot or outside the facility will be by appointment only.
What If I Feel Sick?
If you feel sick and coming down with upper or lower respiratory systems, consider yourself a potential case to take it seriously, says Dr. Ansorg.
"Do not go to work, do not mingle with people. Stay isolated and take care of yourself. Have lots of fluids, take Tylenol for body aches and fevers," said Ansorg.
If you feel yourself getting sicker, contact your healthcare provider and call ahead. Dr. Ansorg states that your symptoms are highly contagious and it's best to wear a mask if traveling outside the home to the hospital or doctor's office. If you are experiencing shortness of breath or trouble breathing, call the hospital's Emergency Room before going.
For those who do not have a primary care provider or do not have insurance, medical support and attention is offered at the County Healthcare centers and Neighborhood clinics.
COVID-19 is transmitted via droplets, unlike other airborne illnesses. Droplets in a cough typically only travel three feet, which is why the social distancing recommendation is six feet. The virus can also live several hours or days on surfaces, depending on the environment. It's recommended that everyone disinfects frequently touched surfaces and does not touch their eyes, nose, or mouth due to the virus surviving in mucous membranes.
A community call center is available at 833-688-5551 for anyone with questions.
The full video is available below: