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Public Health Officer calls COVID-19 situation “dire” in Santa Barbara County

Public Health officers calls Covid19 situation dire for first time since pandemic began
Dr. Henning Ansorg on Zoom
Tracy Lehr / NewsChannel 3-12
Dr. Henning Ansorg on Zoom call

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said the county is seeing the results of Thanksgiving gatherings and called the situation "dire" for the first time since the pandemic began.

The doctor said he was at a loss for other words.

"I honestly don't know what to say anymore. Many people are blatantly disregarding all warnings. There is a lot of traveling and mixing and mingling and not wearing masks or keeping a distance away. I understand that people are tired of the pandemic, however, denial of the facts only makes things worse," said Dr. Ansorg.

The county will not know the impact of recent holiday behavior for a couple of weeks.

Ansorg said hospitals are "booked" with only a handful of beds left, putting other forms of crisis-care at risk.

Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso has been watching for trends. She said there have been outbreaks among people who work in agriculture, retail, administration, health care and cleaning.

"So, yesterday was the worst day that we experienced in this pandemic, all these metrics are the highest level they have ever been," said Do-Reynoso.

Do-Reynoso announced 7 new deaths, six of them yesterday, along with 456 new cases.

The county is not meeting the thresholds needed to relax the stay-at-home order.

In response, the county has added another testing location in Santa Maria and one in Isla Vista. There were already existing locations in Santa Maria, Lompoc and Goleta. She advised people to register for appointments online.

She was optimistic about vaccinations.

More than half or 54 percent of the 16,775 vaccine doses the county has received have been administered. They hope to ramp up those numbers by giving 350-500 vaccinations a day and eventually 1,000 a day.

So far, the recipients have been frontline workers and assisted living residents.

Doctors said the new variant has not shown up locally, yet.

Infectious Disease Specialists Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons with Cottage Health said, "We know now that a person with this variant is more likely to infect those around them."

Dr. Ansorg said it could impact safety measures.

"If there were to be the more prominent strain in our area a six foot distance would not suffice," said Dr. Ansorg.

Do-Reynoso urged people to follow the 4-Ws-- meaning Wear masks, Wash hands, Watch distancing and Wait to gather.

Dr. Ansorg and Do-Reynoso said they received their first dose of vaccine before joining the Zoom news conference from their offices.

They said Zoom conferences are the best way to be safe and efficient.

Weekly Santa Barbara County COVID19 new conferences will now be held on Fridays at 4:30 p.m.

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Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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