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Santa Barbara County Has Highest COVID-19 Spread in California – Santa Barbara Edhat

By the edhat staff

New state data shows Santa Barbara County has the highest rate of COVID-19 spread out of any other county in California.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is tracking each county’s effective reproduction number, also known as the R-effective, to determine the average number of people each infected person will pass the virus onto thus representing the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading.

Based on the state’s model, Santa Barbara County has the highest R-effective in the state at 1.27 as of Friday, said Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso. She explained anything above 1 means the virus is spreading exponentially. 


R-effective trends by County from October 28, 2020 to January 13, 2021 
(Source: CalCat)

Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg stated the metrics are determined based on the number of positive tests, new cases, and how quickly they increase. He cited a series of huge jumps in case rates that show exponential growth of the virus and how fast it spreads. 

Dr. Do-Reynoso said the county is in “dire straits” as this past Sunday proved to have the highest case rate of 779 new COVID-19 infections beating the previous record by 200 cases. The hosital rates and weekly deaths have quadrupled with the testing positivity reaching 16%. 

These “extremely concerning” numbers were described as a surge on top of a surge and are directly related to holiday gatherings and travel that will likely last until February, said Dr. Do-Reynoso.


R-effective rates by county (Source: CalCat)

Vaccinations Open Up to Anyone 75 Years of Age or Older

Santa Barbara County is beginning vaccination efforts for people 75 years of age and older. Medical providers who are approved to administer the vaccination will be contacting eligible patients to schedule vaccination appointments. Vaccinations will also be made available at each of the public health community vaccination points of distribution (PODs) which are located throughout the county.

This is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, January 20th. Once enough vaccination supply is received, community members aged 65 through 74 will be able to sign up for vaccination followed by those who work in education, childcare, emergency servies, and food/grocery/agricultural sectors. 

Click here for more information on the vaccine rollout.

Dr. Ansorg also addressed a few “conspiracy theories” that are circulating on social media and clarified the rumor that the vaccine will cause infertility is not backed by any scientific data, stating a few women in the vaccine trials have since conceived successfully. He also stated the theory that COVID-19-related deaths are actually due to the flu is not true as everyone admitted to the hospital is tested for both the flu and COVID-19. He stated there have been flu-reated deaths but they are much less this year due to social distancing, mask wearing, and increased hand washing.

Friday’s Numbers

There were 364 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths reported on Friday.

Of those who died, four were over the age of 70, and one was between 50-69 years old. Three had underlying medical conditions and one death was associated with an outbreak at a congregate facility. Two of the deceased individuals were from Santa Maria, two from Lompoc, and one from Orcutt.

There have now been 228 deaths.

The county is now experiencing 2,786 active cases that include 192 hospitalizations with 52 in the intensive care unit.

Santa Barbara County’s intensive care unit availability is currently 1.3%

Dr. Ansorg confirmed the majority of people who are hospitalized are in the 40 to 50 age range.

Public health officials reminded the community to vaccinate when it’s their turn, wear a mask, keep their distance from others, wash their hands, stop gathering, and leave your home only for essential needs.

More data can be found at https://publichealthsbc.org/status-reports/.

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