SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Coronavirus cases have climbed to an all-time high in Santa Barbara County.
Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, the county experienced a tenfold increase in new COVID-19 cases.
This week, the Public Health Department needed to extend the axes on its graphs that track virus data.
“When we look at COVID data by day, what we see is off the chart increases,” public health director Van Do-Reynoso said. “When I say off the chart, I literally mean off the charts.”
After a month filled with winter festivities such as travel and holiday gatherings, more people are getting sick.
Yesterday, the county reported a single-day record of 512 new COVID-19 cases.
At Cottage Hospital, the staff was treating just nine COVID-19 patients on thanksgiving.
Now, that number has soared to 90 patients.
“The peak that we’re seeing with COVID-19 patients is three times the highest peak that we saw in the first two waves,” Cottage Health president and CEO Ron Werft said.
Surge planning is underway to avoid a situation similar to Los Angeles County, where hospitals beds are well past capacity.
“Our hospitals are establishing scarce-resource allocation teams to help our clinical teams decide who would get what,” emergency medical services director Daniel Shepard said.
“Beds, PPE and ventilators are not going to be the challenge,” Werft said. “The problem is critical care staffing.”
As the pandemic picks up, so too does the COVID-19 vaccine.
Thus far, the county health department has received 16,775 vaccine doses.
“Through the three pods this week, we vaccinated over 600 individuals in this phase,” Do-Reynoso said.
This Monday, the county will make mobile testing available to anyone in the public with a drive-thru location in Santa Barbara.
“That’s a huge expansion for our county’s access to testing,” Do-Reynoso said.
The new mobile testing sight will be able to test 500 people per day from the comfort of their cars.