Friday, January 22, 2021     Volume: 21, Issue: 47

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 13th, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 46 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 46

Health officials say after-holiday COVID-19 surge is happening

By Malea Martin

The fears of a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases that public health officials warned about in December are coming to fruition as Santa Barbara County faces “off-the-chart increases,” Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso said at a Jan. 8 press conference.

“The data I am going to present today is almost twice as high as the Dec. 22 data, when I shared my concern at a press conference, and a 10-fold increase between Thanksgiving and the New Year,” Do-Reynoso said. “Unfortunately, we are indeed seeing a significant uptick in COVID activity due to gatherings and travel around the holidays.”

COVID-19 cases are getting so bad in Santa Barbara County that public health officials began conducting their weekly press conferences from the safety of their private offices rather than together in one room.

As an indication that Santa Barbara County is facing its worst surge yet in COVID-19 cases, Public Health Department officials stopped conducting their virtual press conferences in person last week. Since March, the officials have sat in the same room to livestream the regularly scheduled COVID-19 updates each week. Now, they’re “coming to you from the safety of their private offices,” Santa Barbara County Communications Manager Gina DePinto said at the start of a Jan. 8 press conference.

“This week our numbers increased by so much that we had to adjust the axes and the scales of the charts and maps,” Do-Reynoso said on Jan. 8. “Yesterday, we saw 512 new COVID cases. This is the highest number of cases ever reported in one day. We reported 1,938 active cases, nearly a record high; 178 hospitalized due to COVID, of which 59 were in the ICU, both of which are peaks. … Our case rate was over 60 per 100,000, a new record, and testing positivity was 16.5, also a new high.”

Given the ever-worsening situation, Do-Reynoso said that “vaccine distribution continues to be a top priority for the Public Health Department.”

“To date, we have received 16,775 doses,” Do-Reynoso said. “We anticipate that next week we’ll be ordering 7,200 more doses. The opening of our vaccination pods throughout the county have amplified our effort to vaccinate our phase 1 health care workers, and including those in the EMS [emergency medical services] system.”

The county aims to vaccinate 5,000 people by the end of the month.

Public Health also announced  a new mobile testing unit, which began testing people on Jan. 11, starting at CenCal Health in Santa Barbara for at least two weeks. The mobile unit’s next location is still to be announced.

“In addition to the new mobile testing site, expanded COVID-19 testing is also available in the Santa Maria and Isla Vista communities,” according to the announcement. 

The Santa Maria Health Care Center, located at 2115 Centerpointe Parkway, will offer testing Tuesday through Friday, with online appointment registration opening the day before each testing date. 

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