Public Health Provides Quarterly COVID-19 Report Findings
By edhat staff
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) reports the majority of COVID-19 cases are 20-year-olds and agricultural workers are disproportionately affected by the virus.
PHD reported its findings to the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning. Director Van Do-Reynoso stated 8,199 COVID-19 cases were recorded within the county from March through September. The summer months saw a wave of cases as the case rate and testing positivity peaked in July. She stated it may be associated with reopening business sectors and the summer holidays.
The majority of positive cases were attributed to working adults in the 18-29 and 30-49 age groups. Broken down further into ten-year sections, 20-29-year-olds had the highest number of cases followed by 30-39-year-olds. The age group of 0-9 had the least amount.
The Hispanic/Latinx community has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 within the county as they represent 48% of the total population yet 65% of all COVID-19 cases, 75% of hospitalizations, and 55% of associated deaths. Compared to the white community who represents 43% of the population and just 9% of COVID-19 cases, 19% of hospitalizations, and 39% of deaths, although many of the deaths in this category are due to skilled nursing facilities being highly impacted, said Do-Reynoso.
The most common occupation for those who contracted the virus are agricultural workers. There were nine COVID-19 outbreaks associated with agricultural worker communities. PHD works closely with this population to contain the spread and initiated programs such as Housing for Harvest to safely isolate and quarantine those who test positive, said Do-Reynoso. The next highly affected occupations are other frontline workers such as laborers, healthcare employees, and those in the restaurant/bar/food prep industry.
Focusing on the location of infection rates, the unincorporated areas of north county topped the list with the City of Santa Maria not far behind. The majority of overall transmissions were due to close contact, meaning gatherings and parties.
Do-Reynoso stated PHD plans to partner with employment sectors and post-secondary schools to mitigate the spread of disease among 20-year-olds as well as increase prevention messaging. They will continue to monitor the health needs and risks among the senior population. They will also partner with the most affected employment sectors to slow the spread of infection by providing support to those who need to isolate/quarantine as well as reinforce social distancing and mask-wearing messages in these job sectors.
As of Tuesday, the county remains in the red "substantial tier" with an average of 4.2 adjusted case rate, 2.4% positivity rate, and 5% health equity metric. The average case rate needs to lower to 3.9 for the county to be considered for the next lowest orange "moderate tier."
Being in the red tier for 14 days means K-12 schools can now re-open for in-person learning. The state has also issued guidance on allowing for some private gathering however, PHD Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg will continue to prohibit this behavior for the next two weeks to continue the decrease in cases and testing positivity rates.
The most current numbers can be found at publichealthsbc.org.