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Santa Barbara County’s new COVID-19 cases reach troubling peak

Santa Barbara County Public Health Department
Blake DeVine/KEYT
Santa Barbara County officials warned that the new COVID-19 vaccine isn’t an immediate solution for it’s climbing case rate.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — The number of new coronavirus cases in Santa Barbara County has hit a troubling new peak.

“We are currently experiencing the Thanksgiving bump and it is huge,” Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital infectious disease specialist Lynn Fitzgibbons said.

“Our hospitalization numbers are as high as they have ever been,” public health director Van Do-Reynoso said.

After weeks of waiting, Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is finally here to help.

This week, it was injected into the arms of frontline healthcare workers at Cottage Hospital, Marian Regional Medical Center and Lompoc Valley Medical Center.

“Our vaccine center rivaled Disneyland as perhaps the happiest place on earth,” Fitzgibbons said.

“We are relieved to know that the hospital staff who’s caring for our sickest are now able to receive the best protection from this potentially deadly virus,” public health officer Henning Ansorg said.

However, the vaccine isn’t an immediate solution for the county’s climbing case rate. 

“With the winter holiday season quickly approaching, we are concerned that cases from family and friends gathering will continue,” Do-Reynoso said.

“If we see anything like a superimposed bump from Christmas or New Year’s, we are potentially in for some very tough days and weeks ahead,” Fitzgibbons said.

As ICU capacity continues to shrink, local hospitals are delaying non-emergency surgeries to ensure enough bed for COVID-19 patients.

“It isn’t too late to cancel plans that include gathering with people outside your immediate household,” second district supervisor Gregg Hart concluded.

County officials also spoke with Dr. Mark Ghaly of the California Health & Human Services Agency today to discuss being excluded from the state's Southern California Region.

They aim to create a smaller Central Coast Region with San Luis Obispo County and Ventura County.

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Blake DeVine

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