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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 12th, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 22, Issue 46 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 22, Issue 46

COVID-19 surge limits visitation at county hospitals

By Taylor O'Connor

Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reyonoso reported a record-breaking 1,325 COVID-19 cases on a single day (Jan. 8) in her pandemic update to the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 11. 

She told supervisors that the county had 6,513 active COVID-19 cases, 87 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, and 10 were in the ICU as of Jan. 10. 


RATES
This graph shows the county case rate per 100,000 people from Jan. 6 and the variants’ peaks, with omicron at the far right of the graph.
PHOTO SCREENSHOTTED FROM BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING

Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health officials told the Sun via email that the county’s experiencing the highest case counts they’ve seen in the entire pandemic, with 58,847 total cases to date. The current surge stems from omicron, a more contagious variant of COVID-19.

“The projections for this current surge are highly concerning. Hospital capacity will continue to be significantly impacted as we continue through January. We have not seen the peak of this surge yet, and so it is critical that every person take action to stop the spread of this virus,” public health officials said in the email. 

After a recently revised California Department of Public Health mandate that requires hospitals to check visitors’ vaccination status or require them to have a negative COVID-19 test, Dignity Health hospitals—both in Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria—went a step further by limiting visitors due to the fast spread of the virus and staffing shortages, Marian Regional Medical Center Chief Nurse Executive Candice Monge said. 

“As you know, the omicron variant is highly contagious [and] at this time this is an extra precaution to keep them [patients, visitors, and staff] safe and healthy. We believe this limitation will limit the spread of disease. This is a fluid situation that keeps changing our visitation policy,” Monge said.

Right now, patients at Marian are allowed one visitor per day with the exception of the pediatric unit, neonatal intensive care unit, and any end-of-life care planning, Monge continued.

“The number of cases remains high. As they decline we will adjust our visitation as necessary,” she added. 

Monge said she didn’t know how many COVID-19 patients Marian was treating, but that she could say Marian’s cases had been increasing while ICU admissions remained “relatively flat.” 

Cottage Health Hospitals also enforced a visitor restriction policy because of increasing cases. 

“With the new surge of new COVID cases now rapidly spreading throughout our community, it is necessary to pause visitation at Cottage Health to best protect patients and staff. As of Jan. 5, no visitors will be allowed for most patients in the hospitals, with limited exceptions based on what clinical area and urgent need,” Cottage Health officials released in a statement

Visitors who are allowed entry need to show vaccine records or a negative COVID-19 test. All visitors must wear a mask at all times within the facility. Cottage was treating 31 patients with COVID-19 as of Jan. 6, with one person in critical care, according to hospital data. 

“This is a difficult decision, but it is critical that our hospitals maintain capacity for ongoing care. We appreciate the community’s efforts to maintain safe practices, and look forward to when we can again invite visitors back into the hospitals as safely as possible,” Cottage officials said. 










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