Santa Barbara County is seeing what’s described as a “dramatic increase” in the number of new COVID-19 cases, prompting health officials to once again encourage those who are currently unvaccinated to change that.
During a media briefing Tuesday, Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said, “We now experience the pandemic of the unvaccinated,” calling it both unnecessary and preventable.
“Our numbers are increasing and increasing in a very rapid manner within the span of two weeks,” said Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Van Do-Reynoso.
As of Monday, the county was seeing a case rate of 8.8 new cases per every 100,000 residents, a 400 percent increase since June 25, according to Do-Reynoso.
There are currently 303 active cases in Santa Barbara County, up 70 percent from two weeks ago.
Do-Reynoso says that testing positivity has also “rapidly increased.”
Nearly 70 percent of Santa Barbara County residents have reportedly received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Like other places, Santa Barbara County is seeing what are described as “breakthrough” cases, where people who are vaccinated are testing positive for COVID-19. Dr. Ansorg says those cases currently account for 20 percent of new cases, but he stresses that those people are not the ones being hospitalized and he says they’re not responsible for the spread of the virus within the community.
“To put it in perspective, none ended up in hospital,” Ansorg said, adding that those who are vaccinated and test positive usually experience minimal to no symptoms. “It doesn’t mean the vaccine is worthless or not working, it’s 100 percent effective in preventing serious illness or death or even mild symptoms.”
There are currently 28 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county, six of them are in the ICU, which is reportedly up 71 percent from two weeks ago.
California no longer relies on the COVID-19 tier system, but if it did, Ansorg says Santa Barbara County would be on the brink of the purple tier.
The county has an indoor mask recommendation in place for those who are unvaccinated. When asked whether that could change to a mandate, health officials say not yet, adding that what seems to work best is social distancing, hand washing and masking since a mandate is only effective when people follow it.
There are currently eight COVID-19 outbreaks in Santa Barbara County. One is at a homeless shelter in Santa Maria and the other involves a school in southern Santa Barbara County. Do-Reynoso says both outbreaks are similar in size with the one at the school affecting about 23 students so far.