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Old Spanish Days Fiesta is over. Did it contribute to spread of COVID-19?

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The fourth wave of COVID-19 has caught many off-guard. Many southern states like Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi are seeing their biggest surges during the pandemic.

In California, the fourth wave is 38% bigger than the second wave and just a third as big as the third wave. The seven-day new case average for the state is about 13,000. This time last year it was about 9,400. And at its peak in December it was about 44,600.

August is already Santa Barbara County’s third biggest month for cases. Public Health officials state there have been 1,857 new cases this month. The county is on pace for 3,386 cases, 64 shy of February’s total.

Santa Maria has seen the most cases in August, 447. While Lompoc has seen the highest case rate of 65.5 new cases per 10,000 people. The cities east of Santa Barbara, Montecito to Carpinteria, have had the lowest case rate at 21.5 per 10,000 people.

At the start of August, there were concerns that Old Spanish Days, Fiesta, could become a super spreader event. Fiesta canceled many staple events or canceled them to the public, such as the parades, downtown mercado and pequeña.

Many locals commented throughout the five-day event that noticeably fewer people came out to Fiesta this year. 

KEYT will talk with Santa Barbara County Public Health officials about what they saw. And did Fiesta help spread COVID-19. Or is this uptick in cases due to the unvaccinated and the more contagious Delta variant.

As of August 17, 63.4% of those eligible in Santa Barbara County are fully vaccinated, 53.7% of the total population. South Santa Barbara County is significantly more vaccinated than Central or North county. South 61.8%, North 46.6% and Central 45.3%.

To sign up to get a vaccination visit or call 2-1-1.

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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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