Santa Barbara County Public Health officials say the increase in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant means the percentage of vaccinated people needed to reach herd immunity has gone up.
Health officials say about 62% of those eligible to get a vaccine in the county have been fully vaccinated.
A couple of months back, that would have meant we were shy of reaching herd immunity by just 10%, but now officials say that's not the case.
In light of the announcement that a mask mandate will go into effect on Friday, Santa Barbara County Public Health officials held a press conference on Thursday, saying the decision was made for multiple reasons, including case rates, vaccination rates, and COVID-19 hospitalizations.
"We are showing that 89% of our hospitalizations are due to the unvaccinated,” said Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, with the additional 11% being those who are fully vaccinated.
In Santa Barbara County, the number of new cases has gone up 46% from a two-week average of 71 daily new cases to now 104 daily new cases.
"With this new version, the bar is much higher because it spreads faster and more easily, therefore 90 percent would be required,” said Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg regarding herd immunity.
That's an increase of about 20%. The original herd immunity percentage before the Delta variant was a 70% vaccination rate.
In order to reach that goal, health officials say they will continue to work with partners in the community to ensure vaccination outreach and accessibility to the vaccine are available.
"We are seeing a little bit of an uptick in the number of people getting their first shot so this just means that we all need to work together, as Dr. Ansorg mentioned earlier, so that everyone who is eligible will make that decision sooner than later,” Dr. Do-Reynoso said.