To view the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department’s March 19 virtual press conference, please click here.
- The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (SBCPHD) has been monitoring data on vaccine equity and has found that although 48% of county residents are Hispanic, only 20% of the vaccinated population is Hispanic. According to SBCPHD Director Van Do-Reynoso, a similar trend spans across various communities of color in the county. “We have recently partnered with various community groups to offer vaccines to farm workers and other vulnerable groups. We have also intentionally allocated vaccines to our under-resourced communities and the providers nearby,” Do-Reynoso said.
- As of Friday, the county has received 135,400 vaccines and has administered 82.4% of them. In addition, 70,157 of those vaccines have been administered as first doses and 38,139 as second doses. Of the total vaccine count, 3,160 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine have also been administered. The remaining doses are designated for vaccination clinics. Do-Reynoso said that the actual vaccine distribution numbers are probably higher than reported considering that there is a three-day lag in the data.
- The county is currently vaccinating people in the Phase 1B category. This includes residents aged 65 and older, emergency services workers, food and agricultural service workers and education and child care workers. Since March 15, residents aged 16 to 64 who have severe underlying conditions are also eligible for the vaccine. Eligible residents will have to self-attest that they fall under this category.
- According to Do-Reynoso, the county is expecting to receive a significant increase in its vaccine allotment this week.
- California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California will be ending its vaccine tier system in early May, at which point all adult residents will be eligible for the vaccine.
COVID-19 Numbers and Data Update
- The county officially entered the red tier, improving from the purple tier, during Tuesday’s tier assignment.
- According to Henning Ansorg, SBCPHD public health officer, there have been multiple cases of COVID-19 in high school athletes. SBCPHD is mandating weekly testing for athletes and coaches in high-contact sports. “We believe that isolating and quarantining the ones who tested positive and quarantining the team is crucial in preventing further spread of the virus. We understand that this might be disappointing and frustrating to the affected individuals, the teams and their families; however, the safety of the young athletes, their coaches and families has to come first,” Ansorg said.
- During the winter surge in cases, the U.S. was a few weeks behind Europe in transmission conditions. As Europe sees another rise now, Ansorg said he is worried that the trend may repeat itself. “We are at a critical point here,” he said. “We [cannot] let our guard down.”
- With the possibility of Deltopia becoming a superspreader event, Do-Reynoso said that the SBCPHD is working on ways to curb COVID-19 transmission ahead of April 3. “The general plan is [a] partnership between the county, between the city and between UCSB and the Isla Vista community. We are all aware that Deltopia could be the superspreader … typically in the past, it’s been a huge congregation of people — that is indeed the superspreader event we want to avoid,” Do-Reynoso said. “We have been planning to mitigate such a large gathering, so that does involve messaging, that does involve discouraging visitors, that does involve putting into place enforcement activities as well.”
Public Health Official Statements
- Do-Reynoso responded to the March 16 Atlanta spa attacks that claimed the lives of eight individuals: Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim and Yong Ae Yue.“It is critical for us to note that of the eight people who lost their lives, six were Asian women … As public health director and as an Asian American woman, I’m devastated by the senseless loss of lives,” Do-Reynoso said. “This killing spree and other attacks on members of the Asian American, Pacific Islander community threaten the health and safety of all members of our community. Collectively, we must recognize that racism — individual, institutional and systemic — is truly a public health crisis.”
- The SBCPHD is allowing more than one parent from an athlete’s immediate household to be present during practice and competitions — contrary to state guidance. “We reviewed the state’s guidance, and unfortunately, it didn’t make sense to us either and so we reached out to the state, we reached out to our colleagues as well as reviewed all the different guidances,” Do-Reynoso said. “And as Dr. Ansorg shared, we are guided by other guidances such as live performance, such as outdoor activity, and concluded that at this point in time, with social distancing, with the observers being in a single household, safeguarding the social distance, that it is a low-risk activity.”
- Regarding vaccine hesitancy, Do-Reynoso had the following advice for discussing the topic with loved ones: “I have had the same, similar conversations in my family, and I like to keep it simple. Getting a vaccine is the kindest, is the most charitable way to show your immediate family and those around you that you care for them.”