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Santa Barbara County public health reports several COVID-related records

Public Health reports record COVID case rates in Santa Barbara County during Omicron surge

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso reported several COVID-related records to county supervisors on Tuesday during a virtual board meeting.

"Saturday we had 1,325, which is a new record for reported daily cases," said Do-Reynoso."

She said the positivity rate, the case rate and the active cases are all county records.

The test positivity rate is 26.6 percent, and the case rate per 100,000 people is 187.78 as of January 6.

The are 6,513 active cases. That is up 80 percent from the county's two week average of 3,628.

Lab sequencing reports last week indicate that 79 percent of the samples match the Omicron variant that appears to be the most contagious variant to date.

The two week average of hospitalizations is also up 40 percent.

The unvaccinated make up the majority of hospitalizations and currently there is one child in the hospital with COVID, but the child is not in an intensive care unit.

The county is also managing 91 active outbreaks with 11 at schools, 26 at businesses and 54 at congregate living facilities.

Do-Reynoso reported a total of 572 COVID deaths in the county since the pandemic began.

One supervisor questioned that number.

Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg answered by saying the number is based on death certificates that he scrutinizes.

Dr. Ansorg said states that are not managing the pandemic as well are seeing more deaths.

If the spike continues there could be 200 more deaths, but they called that a worst case scenario.

When asked if there is any good news Do-Reynoso said, "The fact that we were able to order 80,000 tests on a weekly basis, to flood our community, I think is a piece of good strategy in managing our COVID response, the fact that we are responsive in expanding other testing sites as well is another good piece of news."

She also said the state just approved a request for an additional testing site that will be up and running in two weeks once the county secures a location in the Goleta area.

The county is also expanding days and hours at current testing sites that you will find on the public health website and vaccination locations are also being added in areas with the lowest vaccination numbers.

Some walk-ins will be available, but they urge people to make appointments and keep them since they have been dealing with no-shows.

About 77 percent of the eligible county residents have had at least one vaccination shot.

After the board meeting Supervisor Gregg Hart said, "Well unfortunately we are experiencing a significant increase in cases and with that comes sadly increased hospitalizations. We are concerned, down the road, that some of those people will get very serious health complications. So, the message remains please wear a mask upgrade your mask to get a k95 or n95 mask."

Do-Reynoso, who has a doctorate, said vaccinated people may not be getting as sick if they catch COVID now, but even mild cases can lead to long-haul COVID symptoms that should be avoided.

Long-haul COVID symptoms being studied include trouble breathing, chest pain, brain "fog" or fatigue, loss of smell or taste, nausea, anxiety and depression.

For more information visit publichealthsbc.org.

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Tracy Lehr

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

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