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Looking back two years during the COVID-19 Pandemic

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The COVID-19 pandemic is now two years old.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus pandemic. And on March 19, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the first stay-at-home order.

Cottage Health infectious disease specialist, Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons, thinks this is only the beginning of COVID.

“I think that it is very likely that this virus will stay with us for the long term,” she said.

Since the pandemic started, WHO stated there have been more than 460 million confirmed cases and 6 million deaths worldwide. At home, California has done better compared to other states. California has had the 13th fewest cases and 12th fewest deaths per capita.

As the pandemic continues, Dr. Fitzgibbons said the virus is changing.

"As every new variant came along it did appear to become less fatal. But what it also did is it became more infectious," she said. "And that’s really what caused this massive, quite devastating surge that we felt in the community over the last couple of months with Omicron.”

The Omicron surge was so infectious in Santa Barbara County, Public Health officials stated there were almost as many cases in all of 2021 as there were just in January of 2022. But it was the Delta surge at the start of 2021 that saw the most deaths. 160 people died in Santa Barbara County in January 2021.

Moving forward, health leaders said we’re better prepared for future variants or another pandemic.

“We have wastewater surveillance, we have case monitoring better than ever before, we have variant detections and sequencing," said Dr. Fitzgibbons. "And we have better networks and connections with other communities around our state, our country and even around the world.”

Dr. Fitzgibbons said there will likely be an uptick in cases as masks come off and the world opens up, but the higher the vaccination rate, the lower the risk.

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Scott Sheahen

Scott Sheahen is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Scott, click here.


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