COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County have increased by 400% between June 25 and July 26. Currently, the county has a case rate of 8.8 per 100,000 people and a testing positivity rate of 5.3%, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department’s July 27 press conference. 

In comparison, the case rate in Santa Barbara County was between one and 1.9 per 100,000 people in June, and the testing rate was between .6% and 1.2%. 

This increase follows Santa Barbara County Public Health Department’s (SBCPHD) recent recommendation for county residents to wear masks in indoor, public areas. 

Santa Barbara County’s active cases and hospitalizations stand at 303 and 28, respectively. 

Of the 28 hospitalizations, six are in the intensive care unit. Active cases are up by 70% and hospitalizations are up by 71% from the last two-week average. 

Currently, 61.3% of eligible county residents have been fully vaccinated, and 69.4% of eligible county residents have been at least partially vaccinated. 

“I’m saddened to report that Santa Barbara County is experiencing a dramatic increase in new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths. I’m particularly saddened and upset because all of this is 100% preventable,” Public Health Officer Henning Ansorg said. “The way to prevent this is by getting the very safe and effective vaccine that’s easily available.”

Ansorg emphasized that the new surge is primarily affecting unvaccinated individuals and that the current metrics have the county at the brink of the purple tier. Though there are some breakthrough infections among vaccinated people, Ansorg added, the breakthrough cases do not lead to hospitalizations “and these relatively rare cases are not responsible for spreading the virus through our communities.” 

“Let me be clear, this new surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths is affecting the people who do not get vaccinated, for whatever reason. We now experience the pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Ansorg said. 

The 93117 zip code — which includes Isla Vista, Goleta, Gaviota, Naples and Capitan — has the sixth lowest vaccination rate in the county out of 22 zip codes at 54.1%. Out of 53,768 zip code residents, 24,696 residents are unvaccinated. 

In the whole county, there are 149,683 residents eligible, but unvaccinated. 

“We have our work set out,” SBCPHD’s director, Van Do-Reynoso, said. 

SBCPHD is using its partnerships to try door-to-door canvassing, social media campaigns, public service announcements, webinars, incentives and more to try and convince hesitant and unvaccinated residents to get their shots. 

Despite rising case rates, Ansorg said there are currently no plans to alter UC Santa Barbara or other colleges in the county’s plans for in-person instruction in the fall. 

To combat the recent rise in cases, Ansorg asked county residents to avoid crowds, wear masks in indoor, public spaces and only travel when necessary.

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Atmika Iyer
Atmika Iyer (she/her/hers) is the County News Editor for the 2021-22 school year. She's a lover of loud music, loud laughs and loud prints.