SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County health officials are reporting a steep surge in positive COVID-19 cases as the first batch of the long-awaited coronavirus vaccine arrives.
On Monday, 360 cases were reported followed by 207 new cases on Tuesday. Monday's case total is the highest single-day increase since cases began being tracked back in Spring.
Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso says the rise in cases is directly connected to gatherings during Thanksgiving week.
"This surge in cases falls just over two weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday," she said. "It is directly related to the gathering of family and friends as we had predicted."
Intensive Care Unit (ICU) availability is currently at 1.7 percent in Southern California, although Santa Barbara County is in better shape with about 40% availability.
The county is expected to receive 13,425 doses of the COVID vaccine this month. There will be 3,900 doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech arriving first, with two shipments going to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara and two shipments going to Marion Medical Center in Santa Maria.
This will be followed by shipments of another vaccine developed by Moderna. Those are expected the week of Dec. 21. It's expected to be 6,600 vaccines.
Also next week, county health officials say they will receive an additional delivery of the Pfizer vaccine, with an expected supply of 2925 doses.
"It will be going to our hospital health care workers as well as our health care workers in the community that (are) a high risk," said Do-Reynoso.
With the Christmas holidays now upon us, there's another serious concern about traveling, spreading COVID and having another surge in illnesses.
"If you're going to see family, if you are going to travel, try to quarantine," said Supervisor Das Williams, who said he knows there are many people who do not want to comply with the health orders.
For businesses that are clinging to their financial lives, Supervisor Joan Hartmann said urgent relief from the government is necessary immediately.
"If that Congress goes home for holidays without enacting something, it's unconscionable," Hartmann said.
The meeting had a sour exchange with Supervisor Peter Adam and Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg. The line of questions was about false positive cases when Adam had a reaction Ansorg viewed in his Zoom connection.
Ansorg asked why Adam was laughing.
Adam answered "it seems to me if you have a test that works, it works."
In defense of the results, Ansorg said, "it does work. Very well." Adam told Ansorg to "just relax."
As the two cooled down, Ansorg said, "I don't like to be ridiculed, Sir."