Public Health Reports Increase in COVID-19 Hospitalizations
By edhat staff
Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) is working with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to address its increased hospitalization rates of individuals with COVID-19. In a press conference on Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom stated that CDPH is actively monitoring and working with thirteen counties to provide targeted engagement and technical assistance to help address areas of concern.
Per CDPH, the increased rate of hospitalization in Santa Barbara County is related to cases in the north county region that are attributed to community transmission due to gatherings, workplace transmission followed by household transmission, Skilled Nursing Facility outbreaks (SNF), and an increase in community testing. The average increase in the hospitalization rate in a 3-day period should not exceed 10% in order to meet the metric.
“The increase in hospitalizations and concerns around Skilled Nursing Facilities are just two of the metrics we are monitoring closely when considering how we proceed. We continue to work with the State and Local Partners to find the most effective ways in which we can safely reopen businesses when the time is right for Santa Barbara County,” stated Van Do-Reynoso, Director of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.
The County is working with CDPH to address these concerns through key actions including increased community engagement, disease mitigation strategies, continued testing, and maintenance of supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and access to face coverings.
On June 12, 2020, CDPH and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL OSHA) released guidelines for expanded personal care services with the recommendation that these additional high-risk businesses open no sooner than June 19, 2020. At this time, the current Health Officer Order does not permit these businesses to operate in Santa Barbara County, and they may not open until the order is amended or replaced. PHD is monitoring metrics closely to determine whether or not the order will be amended to open new sectors.
Outbreak at Country Oaks Care Center
PHD is reporting five deaths related to the ongoing outbreak at the Country Oaks Care Center in Santa Maria. Currently, 25 residents and 14 staff members that tested positive for COVID-19 have been reported.
The initial positive cases were reported on May 31, 2020 and PHD states they have been working closely with the facility as well as various state agencies on disease mitigation and supporting ongoing operations.
“We are deeply saddened to report the loss of these five community members and we extend our heartfelt sympathies to their families and loved ones. We are again reminded that our older adult neighbors are most vulnerable to the effects of this virus and we must take action to protect them every day,” said Dr. Do-Reynoso.
The facility has had significant challenges in meeting staffing needs. In partnership with the County and State, the following resources have been deployed:
- Two (2) California Medical Assistance (CALMAT) Teams from the State, specializing in COVID-19 positive care and response. Each team is comprised of one (1) Nurse and two (2) Emergency Medical Technicians.
- Physician Assistants, Nurses, and Certified Nursing Assistants from the California Health Corps
- Santa Barbara County Medical Reserve Corps
“Over the next week, the Healthcare-Associated Infections Program will work to provide additional infection control training to staff at County Oaks Care Center,” shared Paige Batson, Deputy Director for Community Health. “These measures will be critical to ensure the health and safety of both residents and staff moving forward.”
More Data on Santa Maria Cases
Dr. Do-Reynoso presented a comprehensive data report on the demographics of positive COVID-19 cases in the county, and more specifically in Santa Maria due to the higher number of cases present.
The PHD concluded throughout the entire county there is a higher number of confirmed cases and deaths are among the Hispanic/Latinx population than the white population. Additionally, when hospitalized, acuity and length of stay is also higher in the Latinx population.
There is also a clear association between lower incomes and increased rates of testing and confirmed cases, as well as more people with lower income are seeking out testing and are testing positive.
Specifically in Santa Maria, Dr. Do-Reynoso stated there's a burden of disease all over the city, however, there is a density of cases North of Betteravia and west of Broadway. These neighborhoods typically have apartments and residences with crowded living conditions, with some areas having more congregate settings such as skilled nursing facilities long term care and shelters, she said.
The Hispanic/Latinx population in Santa Maria represents a disproportionately higher number of cases compared to their representation in Santa Barbara County population and in comparison to non-Santa Maria cases.
Santa Maria cases have a higher percentage of household size between 4 and 7 individuals, have more cases who were uninsured and fewer cases with private insurance, and are more likely to understand and practices social distancing at home and work when compared to non-Santa Maria cases.
PHD also found that a high number of Santa Maria cases are essential workers, with over 20% working in the agricultural industry.
The data presentation can be found here.
Current COVID-19 Numbers
As of Tuesday, PHD is reporting a grand total of 2,115 COVID-19 cases within Santa Barbara County. Of these, 984 are related to the outbreak at the federal prison in Lompoc and 1,037 are community cases.
In addition to the five deaths reported at the Country Oaks facility, there was an additional COVID-19 related death of a Santa Maria resident in their 60s with underlying health conditions. There have been 22 deaths overall.
From the 1,037 community cases, 237 are currently active. There are 181 cases quarantined at home, 56 hospitalized with 14 in the ICU, and 72 pending information.
Of the 1,128 community cases, 886 are in the northern parts of the county including 688 in the Santa Maria area.
The public is encouraged to visit publichealthsbc.org for more information. For general questions about COVID-19 locally, residents may call the Santa Barbara County Call Center at (833)-688-5551. The Call Center is open weekdays (except for holidays) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.