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COVID case decline reported again in Santa Barbara County after a recent increase

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - There is a new tone of optimism from the Santa Barbara County Health Department when it comes to the latest COVID-19 numbers.

66.6 percent of the eligible Santa Barbara County residents that are fully vaccinated. One in three eligible county residents remain unvaccinated.

In the last two weeks, there's been a 12 percent decrease in the number of Intensive Care Unit beds needs.

The average stay for someone in the hospital has been four days. Some stays have been as high as 25 days.

A new statewide graphic is showing counties with higher vaccination rates have lower case rates.

Areas with lower vaccination rates have higher case rates.

Santa Barbara is right in the middle. Santa Barbara County Health Director, Dr. Van Do-Reynoso said the hope is to have more vaccinations and she says that will likely "correlate to a lower case rate," based on her graph.

The county has been focusing on zip codes where the vaccination levels have not been high. In recent weeks there has been a positive change, according to health department statistics. "We are super excited," said Do-Reynoso . The new numbers show more people, "decided to get their first shot." The communities include Guadalupe, parts of Santa Maria Sisquoc, Garey, Los Alamos, Vandenberg Village and Mission Hills.

There are 57 active outbreaks. They have been found in 25 schools, 11 businesses and 21 in congregate living facilities.

The Santa Barbara Unified School District will release an update on its COVID 19 numbers at tonight's school board meeting.

The health department says in August, 85 percent of the patients with COVID-19 were unvaccinated.

There have been concerns in recent weeks with more people out in public at community events such as the Elks Rodeo or live concerts along with many other types of gatherings.

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said he was impressed with the increase in vaccinations and was encouraged

"Our outreach is really important. I want to see some follow up in that regard," said Supervisor Das Williams. He said the current effort and numbers of contacts to encourage vaccinations need to be improved.

Carpinteria resident Jaime Diamond asked,"What is our end goal?" She also said the statistics presented to the Board of Supervisors, did not appear to include the number of people who had COVID but only focused on those who had received their shots.

Diamond said she was also worried about the number of job openings for nurses at Cottage Hospitals that she said were not being filled.

Supervisor Joan Hartmann relayed the impacts on students who have come down with COVID. She said her godchild got the virus and was home from school unable to study because of the impacts and the time spent recovering with high temperatures, in bed.

She also said studies show 96 percent of doctors have taken the vaccine.

Supervisor Bob Nelson said "COVID is with us." He urged people to respect all opinions on it. "I don't see this thing where the people who are unvaccinated are causing the spread." He said when we have the hospital capacity to handle cases he wants to favor giving people their choice on whether or not to get the vaccination.

"There is a big difference," said Supervisor Das Williams about the interpretation of the numbers when he said the most cases reported are with people who have not received their vaccine. "There are tragedies that we can prevent."

Williams said society should think about each other more, and referenced the American spirit during the World War II era, known a the Greatest Generation.

Do-Reynoso said she has tried to be civil in her conversations with the public but admitted that she and Santa Barbara County Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg have been threatened over the COVID issue.

Watch tonight on Newschannel 3-12, KKFX Fox 11

(More photos, video, and details will be added here later today.)

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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