Public Health Department Addressed COVID-19 Vaccine Concerns
By edhat staff
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) addressed vaccine concerns and COVID-19 updates during Friday's press conference.
PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso kicked off the meeting by addressing the latest report by The Independent regarding an undocumented 92-year-old woman being unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a PHD clinic.
Do-Reynoso clarified this the clinic was booked this day and the person did not have an appointment so there wasn't a vaccine available nevertheless, she is sorry this incident occurred. Due to a shortage in vaccine supply, same-day appointments are not available.
She stressed that lack of documentation will not be a barrier to receiving the vaccine and she hopes this will dispel fears, especially in undocumented community members. Per identification guidelines, PHD does need to verify eligibility and county residency. They are asking or any form or documentation with the same name that matches the appointment name. The document does not need to be goverment issued, and it will not be a barrier, she said.
She continued to explain this case appears to be a rarity and wants to reassure the community and encourage everyone to continue pursuing vaccination when they're eligible.
For the county's total vaccine supply, 93% of all allocated vaccines have been administered. Anyone age 65 and older or anyone who works in healthcare and longterm care are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Phase 1B that include educators, childcare workers, food/agricultural workers, and emergency medical services are next in line to receive the vaccine, which will happen "very soon" said Dr. Do-Reynoso.
The unexpected delay in Moderna vaccines this week due to the storm throughout the nation have significantly slowed down the supply chain.
Schools and Sports to Return
Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg reported the county's COVID-19 case rate for the past three days was below the 25 per 100,000 population threshold needed to reopen elementary schools. He said if the trend continues through the weekend, K-6 schools can reopen for in-person instructions as early as this coming Wednesday.
There are currently six public schools and one charter school that have completed the appropriate safety plan and can open next week providing the county meets the case rate requirements on Monday evening, said Dr. Ansorg.
He continued by advising schools who have not finalized their safety plan to do so now as there will only be a three-week window where schools can open regardless of case rates. However, if case rates creep up past the 25 threshold and schools have not been approved to reopen, they will have to wait until numbers reduce again.
On Friday, the state-issued guidance on outdoor and indoor youth and recreational adult sports activities can resume on February 26th.
"The guidance applies to all organized youth sports and recreation— including school- and community-sponsored programs, and privately-organized clubs and leagues — and adult recreational sports (hereafter youth and adult sports). This guidance does not apply to collegiate or professional sports. Additionally, this guidance does not apply to community events, such as marathons, half-marathons, and endurance races," according to the California Department of Public Health website.
COVID-19 Demographic Data
Dr. Do-Reynoso presented a series of slides showing COVID-19 data within specific demographics of our county from March through December of 2020.
The age group with the highest number of reported cases is 20-29 years old followed by 30-39 and then 40-49. The lowest number of cases appeared in the 0-9 age group.
Comparing case rates to population size, working-age adults age 18-29 represented 30% of cases versus 21% of their population while 30-49 years old showed 33% of cases compared to their 24% population representation.
The majority of COVID-19 deaths occurred among older adults, being disproportionately higher than their population. The 50-69 age group had 25% of deaths compared to 22% of their population while the over 70 age group had 67% of deaths compared to their 11% population size.
Regarding race/ethnicity, communities of color were disproportionately impacted by the virus highlighting ongoing historic social and economic disparities, said Dr. Do-Reynoso.
For occupations, the highest number of cases were in the retired/unemployed category, likely due to skilled nursing and congregate care settings being hit the hardest with outbreaks. Clerical/management, laborers, healthcare workers, restaurant/food employees, and frontline occupations were also affected.
A full report will be available soon on the PHD website.
PHD reported four deaths and 154 new COVID-19 cases on Friday.
Two individuals were over 70 years of age and two were 50-69 years of age. Four individuals had underlying health conditions and one death was associated with an outbreak at a congregate-care site. One person resided in Santa Maria, one in Orcutt, one is north county unincorporated, and one in the Santa Ynez Valley.
There have been 392 deaths in the county since the start of the pandemic.
Currently, the county is experiencing 524 active cases. Of those, 92 are hospitalized and 21 are in the ICU. Santa Barbara County has 19.7% ICU availability.
Dr. Ansorg confirmed the case rate has significantly reduced, however it's still higher than the surge we experienced this past summer.
More data can be viewed at publichealthsbc.org.