To view the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department’s March 5 press conference, please click here.

Vaccine Update

  • The county has received 105,160 vaccines and has administered 81% of them as of Friday. In addition, 53,106 of those vaccines have been administered as first doses and 32,201 as second doses. The remaining doses are designated for vaccination clinics, of which the county is planning to host more in collaboration with three hospitals and Sansum Clinic. 
  • Van Do-Reynoso asked for community members who are currently ineligible to be vaccinated to be patient, as they are working hard to reach their various sectors soon. 
  • The county is currently vaccinating people in the Phase 1A and Phase 1B categories. This includes healthcare workers, community health workers, emergency medical personnel, long-term care facility residents and staff, residents aged 65 and older, emergency services workers, food and agricultural service workers and education and childcare workers.
  • Seventy percent of vaccines are going to healthcare providers to vaccinate residents who are 65 and older, Do-Reynoso said; 30% of vaccines are going to public health community clinics to vaccinate residents eligible for a vaccine. 
  • Despite the state’s goal to implement an age-based system for vaccinating immunocompromised individuals by March 15, Do-Reynoso said there are still many unknowns — in part because Blue Cross, the third party slated to take over vaccinations, has not yet done so. It is now expected to take over by the end of the month. 
  • The county is expected to receive 3,800 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine early in the coming week, according to Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara Public Health Department public health officer. 
  • In response to doubts about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s efficacy, Ansorg said that the drug maker had to prove to the FDA that it was safe and effective in protecting against COVID-19. “During the latest trial for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 85% of vaccine recipients achieved protection from severe COVID 28 days after having received this shot. Protection against dying from COVID was 100%,” Ansorg said. “After an in-depth evaluation of the Johnson & Johnson trial data, it is very clear that this new vaccine has several advantages over the Pfizer and Moderna products, while performing comparably.” 
  • Ansorg said the advantages of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine include needing only one shot, being highly effective in as fast as 28 days, causing fewer and weaker allergic reactions, being easier to transport and handle and working against newly discovered COVID-19 variants.
  • Ansorg predicted that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will become the preferred vaccine for many people, but clarified that the best vaccine will be whichever is available at any given time.
  • With high-risk and high-contact youth sports being allowed under current case metrics, Ansorg requested that family and friends of athletes exercise caution and clarified that only immediate household members are allowed to be observers during athletic events.
  • When asked whether or not students should get vaccinated through the university or the county where they’re originally from, Ansorg said to get it where it is most quickly available and accessible. 

COVID-19 Numbers and Data Update

  • The county’s cases are continuing to decline. “This is something to celebrate,” Do-Reynoso said. Between Feb. 21 to Feb. 27, the testing positivity rate decreased by 22%, case rates decreased by 34% and active cases decreased by 23%. 

Public Health Official Statements 

  • Regarding reaching the red tier, Ansorg said that current case rates are very promising. “Our numbers have been going down continuously over the last couple of weeks, however, the decline has been somewhat slowed, so we are still a little bit away. We’re in the 11.3 range … and we need to be below 7,” Ansorg said. 
  • The county saw its highest death count of all time in February. “[The death count] has taken such a toll on our health care workers, you have no idea. They are emotionally drained by experiencing these solitary deaths in the hospital, and it is heartbreaking to hear their stories,” Ansorg said. “Our deaths have still been high for mainly one reason, and that is that deaths lag behind the active cases in the hospital because they are fighting for their lives in the ICU, and at some point there’s just no way for them [to be] saved.” 
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Atmika Iyer
Atmika Iyer is an assistant news editor. She's a lover of loud music, loud laughs, and loud prints.