Supervisors Discuss COVID-19 Update at Peter Adam's Final Meeting
By edhat staff
Supervisor Peter Adam attended his last Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday but not without a tense exchange with Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg over COVID-19 data.
After joining the Board of Supervisors in 2012 representing the North County's Fourth District, Adam chose not to seek a third term. He will be replaced by his chief of staff, Bob Nelson, who ran unopposed.
As a fifth-generation farmer and part of the Adam Brothers Family Farm, the supervisor with the distinct mustache was often the minority conservative voice, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. His last meeting was no exception.
While the Public Health Department (PHD) provided its weekly COVID-19 status update to the Board on Tuesday morning, Adam raised questions over the county's data, specifically regarding false positives.
PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso stated the most common false positivity range of the PCR test, which is a polymerase chain reaction that detects the virus’s genetic material, is 0.8%-4% with an extreme low of 0% and a rare extreme high of 16.7%. She stated the PCR test is currently the common testing method and is considered the best we currently have.
PHD Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg stepped in to further answer Adam's question and explained false positives are very rare in our area due to the low percentage of testing positivity rates. He stated if there is a concern that the positive results are inflated due to testing positivity that is not the case. The bigger concern, he said, are false negatives where someone tests negative but is actually positive and may unknowingly spread the virus.
Adam has been a vocal critic of the PHD's scientific data and presentations while throughout the pandemic has repeated incorrect statements about COVID-19, falsely compared it to the flu, and quoted sections of "The Great Barrington Declaration," an inaccurate document that numerous medical experts and scientists have called "ridiculous" and "very dangerous."
"I just can't stand it when there's statements sprinkled in like 'the prevalence of disease in the community has an effect on the false positive rates,' because that just seems like it shouldn't work that way and if it works that way I'm questioning why," Adam said.
Dr. Ansorg then launched into a more detailed explanation of how false negatives and false positives work using specific examples when Adam started to laugh.
"Why are you laughing sir? What is so funny about that?" Dr. Ansorg asked.
"Well it just seems to me if you have a test that works, it works," Adam responded.
Dr. Ansorg asserted that the test does work, and it works well as Adam says he doesn't know why he's reacting in such a way and tells him to relax. Dr. Ansorg explains he doesn't like being ridiculed when Adam then explains he's a human being that has reactions he cannot control and if something doesn't make sense he laughs.
Dr. Ansorg then re-explains that if you have 94 people who are likely negative and you test 100 of them, you're more likely to pick up false negatives than the likelihood of 5% of them to be positive.
"Ok well I'm just gonna have to accept that, thank you," said Adam.
The whole event can be viewed here approximately 56 minutes into the meeting.
Following the conclusion of the COVID-19 update, Board of Supervisors Chair Gregg Hart stated he was concerned about the level of inaccurate information creeping into the dialogue and he encouraged everyone to go to the Public Health Department's website to find accurate and reliable information.
"This is a serious thing, this is not like the flu, like some people say," Hart said.
Supervisor Das Williams also stated this is a concerning virus that needs to be taken seriously whether one agrees with the protocols or not.
"I hope that regardless of whether you're on board with 100% of the framework or 0% of the framework or like most people somewhere in between, that you will continue to take the disease seriously, continue to take strategies that either adhere to it or practice harm reduction," said Williams.
COVID-19 Numbers as of Tuesday
Santa Barbara County reported 207 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and two additional deaths. Both individuals were 70+ years of age. One resided in Lompoc and one resided in Santa Maria. Neither had underlying health conditions and one death is associated with an outbreak at a congregate living facility.
There have now been 142 deaths within the county.
The grand total of countywide cases is now 13,763. Of those 1,059 are currently infectious with 78 hospitalizations including 20 in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed the county has seen a 129% increase in active cases, a 127% increase in hospitalizations, and a 200% increase in ICU patients within the past two weeks.
The increase is spread throughout the county with Santa Maria seeing the biggest jump, a 76% increase in COVID-19 cases.
The Southern California Region has an ICU capacity of 1.7% while the proposed Central Coast Region has a 35.7% capacity.
The county anticipates 3,900 doses of the Pfizer to arrive within the next few days and 6,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine pending FDA approval. Additionally the county is expected to receive nearly 3,000 more Pfizer doses next week.
More data and information on COVID-19 can be found at publichealthsbc.org.