Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday title=
Public Health Department Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso speaking during a past COVID-19 press conference (file photo)
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By edhat staff

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) reported the county might be able to move into the red tier as early as this Friday.

During Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso explained statewide changes to the "Blueprint for a Safer Economy" metrics that incorporate vaccination rates. 

California has relaxed the thresholds of the color-coded tiers that will allow more sectors to reopen based on the number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in communities that have been hardest hit by the virus.

The state is using the Healthy Places Index (HPI), which uses various data points such as economy, education, housing, etc. that determine health outcomes. California's 1,650+ zip codes have been divided into four quarters based on the HPI Index, generally, the higher scores correlate to higher household incomes and lower scores with lower incomes. 

When California reaches 2 million vaccinations in HPI Quartile 1, the highest "widespread" purple tier will shift from 7 cases per 100,000 population to 10 cases per 100,000. Meaning, that if the 2 million milestone were reached today, Santa Barbara County would be eligible to move into the less restrictive "substantial" red tier. 

As of Monday, the state calculated 1.875 million doses were administered making it possible for the 2 million mark to be met by Friday or early next week due to the current volume of vaccine distribution. Dr. Do-Reynoso called this "wonderful piece of news" and stated the tier assignments would then take place the following day instead of having to wait until Tuesday. 

The next threshold is the 4 million vaccinations which then widens the "moderate" orange tier allowing a 2 - 5.9 case rate per 100,000 from the previous 1-3.9 threshold.

As of Tuesday, Santa Barbara County has an anticipated 9.7 adjusted case rate per 100,000 population, down from 10.9. This puts the county in the purple tier until the state hits the 2 million vaccination threshold. The current testing positivity is 3.6 and health equity is 5.1, both meet the requirements for the red tier.

Vaccination Efforts

Santa Barbara County received a 39% increase of COVID-19 vaccines this week, including the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Last week the county received 9,080 and this week it received 12,580 doses.

The county is following the state's guidance of the 70/30 distribution model. People age 65 and older will receive 70% of the vaccine supply while other eligible sectors will receive 30%. Of the 30%, approximately 33% of vaccine appointments are open to educators, 31% to food and agriculture, 16% is a hybrid of food/ag and emergency services due to a combination clinic, 15% for childcare workers, and 5% for emergency medical services.

PHD is awaiting guidance from the state on when it can reduce the 65 years age restriction and drop it down further.

Public Health Officer Dr. Ansorg also stated the vaccine hesitancy from skilled nursing staff has gotten much better. Last month it was reported that only 30% of staff in this sector had gotten vaccinated with the majority worried about the vaccine side effects and false rumors posted on social media.

Dr. Ansorg reported it's now 70-80% of all skilled nursing staff in the county have been vaccinated. He attributes this increase to educational outreach and people feeling more reassured after watching their peers get the vaccine. 

Supervisor Das Williams expressed his concern for people trying to skip the line to obtain the vaccine and remember there are people who are still at risk of dying from the virus.

"I urge people not to use the return to normalcy as their primary motivator and still be thinking about pub health and thinking about getting economic activity and economic survivability going as the priority. And the biggest one to me is our schools and our kids mental and well being, and learning, and mental health future secured before we sort of get motivated by getting rid of the hassle of it," said Williams.

New CDC Recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new interim recommendations for people who are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

As it states, fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors, without a mask or distanced. Fully vaccinated people can visit with unvaccinated people from a single household with those who are at low-risk of serious complications, indoors and without masks and distancing. Fully vaccinated people can refrain from quarantine and testing after being exposed to a known COVID-19 positive person who was asymptomatic.

Fully vaccinated people should:

  • Continue wearing masks and physically distance in public, when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at an increased risk, when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households.
  • Avoid medium-large in-person gatherings
  • Get tested if exhibiting COVID-19 syptoms
  • Continue to follow guidance from employers
  • Follow CDC and local PHD travel restrictions. 

COVID-19 Numbers

Santa Barbara County logged its first COVID-19 case on March 15, 2020, nearly one year ago. Dr. Do-Reynoso said the county has experienced peaks and valleys since then with two significant surge periods.

The first surge took place in May 2020 and the second took place in December 2020/January 2021, the latter being the biggest and longest during the pandemic. Since January 13, 2021, the county has experienced a downward trend. 

From February 22 - March 8, 2021, active cases have decreased by roughly 40% which is "really good news," said Dr. Do-Reynoso.

The county's first death occurred on April 4, 2020 and since then 424 community members have died due to COVID-19. In the past two weeks, deaths have increased by 7%. In the same time period, hospitalizations have decreased by 38% and the intensive care unit (ICU) stays are down by 12%.

As of this week, 71,851 county residents have been vaccinated. Of those, 50% are fully vaccinated.

More data can be found at https://publichealthsbc.org/status-reports/

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sacjon Mar 09, 2021 02:15 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

VOR - oh please. If you are a Qanon follower, then by definition, you are crazy and an idiot (and a traitor). Why do you rush to defend those who hope for the violent overthrow of our government? Do you get mad when people call Al-Qaeda followers names?

420722 Mar 09, 2021 02:09 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

I don’t follow the Q loons and don’t have any in my family (that I know of), they have been wrong about everything and quite frankly I think many of them have some serious mental issues. I’m still not getting the vaccine.

sacjon Mar 09, 2021 02:31 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

420722 - Why are you refusing to get the vaccine? If you're still holding parties and all around flaunting your disregard for any and all safety measures, why then do you also refuse to do the one thing that might actually protect you and your family? How do they feel about you making these choices for them?

420722 Mar 09, 2021 03:11 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

GT- nah, my family has deep roots here, I think I’ll stay but thanks for the offer. SAC, My family knows I’m not getting it and half them aren’t either and we’re ok with that because we all respect each other’s decisions.

420722 Mar 09, 2021 03:40 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

GT- I forgot to mention, those Neanderthals in TX and FL have booming economies and their kids are in school and have better test scores. CA has ranked near the bottom for quite some time. Our kids haven’t been to school in a year, they even had to switch the grading system since so many were failing so maybe those Neanderthals aren’t as stupid as YOU think!

sacjon Mar 09, 2021 03:37 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

420722 - yeah, yeah most families respect each other's decisions, but WHY are choosing to refuse the one thing that would allow you to continue your parties, maskless gatherings, and all the other defiant activities you've boasted about over the past year?

420722 Mar 09, 2021 03:45 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

Sac-what makes you think I’m not going to continue doing everything I’ve been doing just because I don’t get vaccinated. If you are vaccinated why are you so concerned that I’m not? You’re “safe” now right? Nothing can get you now because you got your feel good shot and you wear your feel good mask right?

Chip of SB Mar 09, 2021 04:26 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

I think this vaccine is truly an individual choice. Our public health officials have made it clear, the vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID or from transmitting COVID. The hope is that it will prevent you from having a severe case. Getting the vaccine can therefore only protect you, and no one else. That’s why the government says you have to continue wearing your mask and living in isolation after you get the vaccine. That being the case, why does it matter what choice other people make? If someone doesn’t want the vaccine, it won’t have any impact on anyone else. Why can’t we all take a big step back and let everyone make their own individual decision?

sacjon Mar 09, 2021 04:35 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

CHIP - Wrong. It's pretty common knowledge that the vaccination helps reduce transmission of the virus (lower viral load, lower risk of transmission). With a global pandemic, it's everyone's moral duty to do what they can to protect themselves and those around them. Flaunting lock down and mask rules throughout the course of the pandemic and now refusing to get vaccinated is an "individual decision," yes, but it is s selfish one, that may lead to further deaths even while the rest of society is trying to prevent illness and death.

Chip of SB Mar 09, 2021 04:45 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

If the vaccine protects others, why do our government officials continue to claim that we need to keep wearing masks and living in isolation after we are vaccinated? That would not be necessary if the vaccine reduced virus transmission. I have a question for you Sac, do you plan to stop masking and living in isolation at some point in the future, and if so what is your criteria for determining when that would be safe and appropriate?

sacjon Mar 09, 2021 04:50 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

CHIP - I never said, and nor did anyone, that this is 100% effective, thus the masks and continued caution. Why do you refuse to take measures that even are 80-90% effective?

And yeah, I will stop wearing a mask in public once the science and medical community says we're at a level where that is safe. I'm getting the vaccine when I can and still wearing a mask and avoiding certain situations, but I'm by no means "living in isolation." Why must it always be all or nothing with you people? I will do whatever is reasonably deemed necessary by the scientific and medical experts to help protect my family, friends and neighbors. It's not all about me.

GeneralTree Mar 09, 2021 04:57 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

420722
My kid has been in school since January. Yours probably went back this past week. Maybe things aren't as bad as you claim them to be. The numbers are justifying Florida and Texas and California to open more. That's a good thing, right?

GeneralTree Mar 09, 2021 05:01 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

That's funny Chip - the first thing I see on the CDC website says "Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19....." And then goes on to say or will help to prevent from getting a severe case . Words matter.

Chip of SB Mar 09, 2021 05:10 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

Sac, I was curious whether you were planning to continue with masking and isolation/distancing in the post-COVID era. My thinking is tens of thousands used to die every year from the flu. I don’t think anyone has been able to quantify how effective masks and isolation measures have been in reducing virus transmission yet, but assuming these measures are reasonably effective then continuing with masking and isolation measures on a permanent basis should save thousands or even tens of thousands of lives every year. Within a 10 years time, the number of flu deaths prevented by masking and isolation measures might exceed the death toll from Covid. Why not perpetuate our new public safety measures in order to save countless thousands of lives from the flu and other viruses in the years ahead?

sacjon Mar 09, 2021 05:25 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

CHIP - no, because I, like every other educated person on this planet, knows the covid is different from the flu.

Now, will you answer my question? Why are you refusing to get a vaccine?

GeneralTree Mar 09, 2021 05:41 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

Not wishing ill at all. Most reasonable educated parents will get the vaccine for their kids (unless there is a medical issue). So they will likely be back in school - and if not they can go to private school. The whining of the sausage fingered armchair epidemiologists will be enjoyable though.

GeneralTree Mar 09, 2021 05:43 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

Chip too many don't use the flu vaccine. If they did the numbers would decrease tremendously. Can't really reason with people who follow Jenny McCarthy for medical advice though......

a-1615354870 Mar 09, 2021 09:41 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

5:10 PM - Continued masking and hand washing would indeed be a good policy for reducing deaths from influenza. Since influenza is not as contagious as SARS-CoV-2, social distancing could be left out. But, you're dealing with a significant fraction of the populace that is ignorant enough to resist doing so.

Seabird Mar 09, 2021 10:28 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

@Chip, how about just keep washing your hands and wearing a mask when YOU feel ill but must go out, post Covid? Seems pretty simple. I don't think anyone is going to stop handwashing. And truth be told, I haven't isolated in months and months. My kid has been in school, in person, since September. I like frequenting a couple of (very) local restaurants and bars on the weekends. Knock on wood, haven't had so much as a cold since last March. Basic measures work for almost everything. Once I am able to be vaccinated, then bonus. It will never mean that I will stop washing my hands or being conscious of the environment, and people, around me. If you think that carelessness is part of the agreement of being vaccinated, you are sorely mistaken.

letmego Mar 10, 2021 10:07 AM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

Masking plans in the post-COVID era: yes. I can say, pretty effectively, that I will now always wear a mask on an airplane. I don't know why it never occurred to me before - but several times over the last decades I traveled at Thanksgiving, ended up in a row in front of someone coughing, and got sick.

I already distance during cold/ flu season - by avoiding the gym unless going somewhere where I can reasonably distance - like a class with it's own dedicated equipment, or the pool. I used to have regular meetups for exercise pre-COVID, and if one of us is sick, we don't go. Also, if one of my friends is sick and still willing to show up for the potluck, I sit at the other end of the table and don't eat their food.

Finally, I have a couple of coworkers from Asia who commonly wear masks in the winter if they are feeling under the weather.

PitMix Mar 10, 2021 07:30 AM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

Basically, unless you are around the people you live with, or other groups of known vaxxers, then just act the same way you've been acting for the last year. Unless you have been acting foolishly. That's what I will do when I get the shot.

420722 Mar 09, 2021 06:56 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

As soon as our leaders announce that getting this feel good shot will get us back to 100% normal I will get the vaccine. So far the science and government gods have made it clear that there is no such plan and we will stay living in fear, masks and modifications (control) indefinitely. If something changes call me but until then no vax for me. If that’s not clear enough I don’t know what else to say.

PitMix Mar 10, 2021 07:28 AM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

We know how to identify you anti-vaxxers, you'll be the ones not wearing masks in public. Strange how those 2 things go hand in hand. I give those people a wide berth.

Chip of SB Mar 10, 2021 08:16 AM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

I find the authoritarianism much more threatening than anything else about this past year. A big component of authoritarianism is singling out people who are different. Comments like “we know how to identify you people” are very troubling. Turning away from a class of people you despise in disgust as they walk past you on the street is a bit awkward and strange, but it is the next steps of authoritarianism that I truly fear. Comments such as “it sounds like lack of education played a part in his decision” foreshadow what will follow. Once the targeted class is dehumanized, things will escalate quickly.

sacjon Mar 10, 2021 09:00 AM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

CHIP - oh boo hoo.... calling out someone who refuses to get a vaccine all the while also refusing to follow or respect any of the covid-era safety rules is hardly "authoritarian," it's just calling out a selfish jerk, nothing more.

A_Villegas_102 Mar 09, 2021 11:30 PM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

Excited to get this Johnson & Johnson vaccine flowing as well - just one jab, we can power through our vaccination backlog real quick. If we all just keep our heads screwed on the right way for another few weeks, this will all be over and you can go right back to licking doorknobs.

yiannis93101 Mar 10, 2021 08:02 AM
Santa Barbara County Might Reach Red Tier by Friday

OMG!!!! The same people always yacking here!
I read edhat occasionally but when I do, it’s always the same ol sorry names commenting on EVERYTHING!! Don’t you people have a life and do anything else?! Why don’t you all just meet and get coffee somewhere and chat your brains out instead of clogging this site up!

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