New COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise Throughout County
By edhat staff
Santa Barbara County racked up 960 new COVID-19 cases within the past week as officials plead with residents to stop gathering.
During Friday's press conference, Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso had a stern message for the community stating she is concerned about how widespread the virus is within the county . "Do not let this holiday season be the last one some people have with their loved ones," she said.
The data clearly shows the sharp rise of new cases is directly related to gatherings, Thanksgiving travel, and most recently the watching of sporting events, specifically Monday Night Football, said Do-Reynoso.
The county's case rate increase four times since November, around the same level as when it peaked in July, and active cases have increased eightfold to the highest number ever experienced in this pandemic. The county is also experiencing the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations since August.
Do-Reynoso stated in the first week of December there were eleven outbreaks in congregate living facilities and ten outbreaks at businesses.
County Remains Hopeful to Move Out of SoCal Region
Earlier this week, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to join San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties in sending Governor Gavin Newsom a letter asking for the tri-county area to be removed from the Southern California Region as part of the new Regional Stay at Home Order.
Officials have requested that if the collective three counties maintain more than 15% intensive care unit (ICU) capacity after the stay at home order that ends on December 28, the new "Central Coast Region" would revert back to the state's original color-coded framework for a safe reopening.
Supervisor Gregg Hart stated Friday they have not heard back from the state but they remain hopeful and optimistic the Governor will respond favorably.
Representative Salud Carbajal was also in attendance during Friday's press conference and expressed his support for the formation of the new region. He also provided an update on the federal stimulus package stating he's part of a bipartisan caucus that plans on finalizing a stimulus package next week.
Rep. Carbajal and his wife both contracted COVID-19 by someone living in his building while in Washington D.C. Their initial tests produced negative results but they followed the advice of healthcare professionals and quarantined to be safe. Several days later Carbajal developed symptoms and both were retested producing positive results.
To this day Carbajal said he still gets bouts of fatigue and body aches, but "we were the lucky ones," he said. "
Santa Barbara County is expecting 3,900 doses of Pfizer's vaccine to arrive next week with 6,600 doses of Moderna's vaccine to arrive following its approval, said Jan Koegler, Manager of the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program.
The county is following the state's guidance for priority distribution and all hospitals are expected to vaccinate their staff within the next two weeks.
More vaccines are expected to arrive in January and February.
Additional data on vaccine distribution and tiers can be found at https://publichealthsbc.org/covid-19-vaccine-information/.
Current COVID-19 Numbers
There were 960 new COVID-19 cases from December 5-11 and two additional deaths bringing the total to 140.
One individual was 50-69 years of age, with underlying health conditions, and resided in the community of Orcutt. The second death was 70+ years of age, resided in the community of Orcutt, and did not have any underlying health conditions. Neither death was associated with an outbreak at a congregate living facility.
There were 59 new cases reported Friday, 643 are active, or infectious, within the county. Of those, 64 are hospitalized including 13 in the ICU.
Santa Barbara County's ICU availability is 31.90% where the Southern California ICU availability is 6.20%.
Ventura County reported 379 new cases on Friday with 5,099 cases still active and 9.2% ICU availability.
San Luis Obispo County reported 185 new cases on Friday with 1,191 cases still active and 87% ICU availability.
More information about Santa Barbara county's data can be found at https://publichealthsbc.org.