Public Health Looks at Bigger Picture in Rising COVID-19 Cases

Public Health Looks at Bigger Picture in Rising COVID-19 Cases title=
Public Health Looks at Bigger Picture in Rising COVID-19 Cases
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Santa Barbara County Supervisor Gregg Hart during Friday's press conference on the COVID-19 pandemic

By edhat staff

During a press conference on Friday, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) officials stated some percentages of COVID-19 cases are decreasing and hospitals are equipped to handle a potential increase of patients.

Supervisor Gregg Hart confirmed the increase of COVID-19 positive cases this week was expected due to reopening more business sectors that create more human interactions.

"This is not good news, but frankly it's not unexpected," said Hart while confirming the simple answer is to wear a face mask.

Hart explained that while the numbers are increasing, the percentages are decreasing when looking at the whole picture. Last Friday there were 315 active COVID-19 cases within the county, today there are 297, an approximate 6% decrease. Overall the rate of hospitalizations have decreased in the past week, even though the past two days increased, but the trend has continued to flatten for the week, said Hart. 

Approximately 85% of available ICU beds in the county are available and the county has a strong reserve that can absorb an unexpected increase, he said.

"The trend with increasing positive test results is concerning to us, but it needs to be looked at in the context of our previous and current testing strategy," said Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg.

"With the understanding there are asymptomatic carriers of the virus who will show up as positive test results, we are certainly picking up some additional cases due to more testing activities. When comparing the increase in new positive COVID results to the increase in hospitalizations of COVID-19, it is obvious that the relative increase in hospitalizations is in fact slightly lower than May percentage-wise. This fact tells me two things. Number one, the virus is definitely more widespread but only a small fraction of these cases will need hospital-level care. Number two, the percentage of COVID positive people who do require hospitalization has remained stable over the past two weeks and has actually gone down from May," said Dr. Ansorg. 

He continued by stating the data from contact tracers show the majority of those who test positive were infected by someone they know. Even if people were meticulous with handwashing, social distancing, and wearing a face mask, some instances appeared to occur when people were in close contact with one another without protection. A few examples were a company's break room, carpooling with co-workers, or at a family gathering.

Hart also clarified the reason why the county decided to continue reopening previously closed expanded personal services today. The data generated from specific circumstances shows a small incremental contribution these services have on future COVID-19 cases and is not a serious threat to public health, he said. 

With some local restaurants closing down due to a customer or employee testing positive for COVID-19, Dr. Ansorg stated this is most likely a decision from the business and not public health as he is unaware of a local restaurant being asked to close for a positive case. "COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person, not so much from a facility to a person," said Dr. Ansorg.

Additionally, Hart stated some businesses had described difficult interactions with customers who refuse to wear their face mask as ordered by the Governor. He warned that failure to comply with education will lead to reinforcement and those subjects could face consequences. He also encouraged members of the public to report instances of businesses or employees failing to follow the guidelines by calling 833-688-5551.

The Numbers

PHD reported 81 new cases on Friday bringing the grand total to 2,712. 

Of the total, 993 cases belonging to the outbreak in the Federal Prison in Lompoc and 1,179 are within the community. Overall, 2,106 total individuals fully recovered and 28 have died.

Of the active 297 cases, 7 are located within the Lompoc prison and 54 are recovering in the hospital with 20 in the intensive care unit.

More information on each case can be found here.

Outbreak in Santa Barbara County Jail

Three inmates at the Main Jail have tested positive for COVID-19. Two of the inmates were housed in the Jail’s general population and 1 of the inmates had been extradited from Arizona and was being held in quarantine. These inmates do not require hospitalization and are being medically isolated in negative air pressure cells. All other inmates housed in their immediate vicinity have been tested and came back as negative for COVID-19. 

Nine additional Custody Staff members have been found to be COVID-19 positive. Following the 9 staff COVID-19 cases we reported last week, sweeping testing of all staff assigned to the Main Jail and all inmates has been underway. As of noon today, 322 employees and 155 inmates have been tested. The total number of COVID-19 positive Custody Staff is currently 18, and consists of 8 civilian staff and 10 custody deputies including the Chief Custody Deputy. 

None of the civilian staff had contact with inmates. Six of the custody deputies work in administrative roles and do not have routine contact with inmates. The remaining 4 custody deputies did have contact with the inmate population, although none had contact with inmates when they were symptomatic. 

The Sheriff's Office previously indicated that there were 2 deputies assigned to the Santa Barbara Superior Courthouse who were awaiting test results following a possible exposure from a COVID-19 positive court employee. Their tests have returned negative for COVID-19. 

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a-1593538424 Jun 30, 2020 10:33 AM
Public Health Looks at Bigger Picture in Rising COVID-19 Cases You can schedule a test at the Earl Warren Showgrounds and it's free. I believe everyone is eligible. My wife and I both got tests 2 weeks ago. Results take a couple days. Test early and test often. This is how we reopen.

a-1593276079 Jun 27, 2020 09:41 AM
Public Health Looks at Bigger Picture in Rising COVID-19 Cases

Hmmm, all the national experts seem to agree that it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes even though the primary spreading mechanism through droplets in the air. Yet our own local experts seem to downplay the importance of sanitizing surfaces to further an agenda. " I'm pleased and happy to repeat the news that we have, in fact, caught and killed a large predator that supposedly injured some bathers. But, as you see, it's a beautiful day, the beaches are open and people are having a wonderful time. Amity, as you know, means "friendship".

bigone Jun 27, 2020 08:52 AM
Public Health Looks at Bigger Picture in Rising COVID-19 Cases

Finally a rational statement and clarification coming from an "official" source to quell the fear and fear-mongers. I've been commenting on these trends for several weeks, as have others here: the trends of actual deaths and overwhelming our hospitals is decreasing while infection has, and will, continue to spread. Disease, viruses, and germs are always present and this one is no different. All one has, or had, to do is look at the data being presented both in Santa Barbara and throughout the United States. However, anyone who mentioned these trends were quickly down voted and labeled with offensive descriptions, including "selfish", "stupid", "covidiot", or some form of politically-based slander or chastising individual freedoms. I hope this article helps to clarify the situation and ease so many of those still in the fear and worry mode. We will get over this and, as a unified and intelligent population living in the greatest country in the world, we always have.

a-1593440653 Jun 29, 2020 07:24 AM
Public Health Looks at Bigger Picture in Rising COVID-19 Cases

People complaining about having their freedoms restricted are like children demanding what they want and expecting it NOW! BIGONE... do you have the freedom to walk into any of your neighbours' houses whenever you want and taking whatever you want from them? How about setting off fireworks in the dry forest? Driving on the wrong side of the road? Why should the social contract protect you if you have total disregard for all around you? C'mon, man, grow up... you're not 12 yo any more.

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