As of press time, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reports 218 cases of COVID-19 in the county, which includes 14 cases in the South County communities of Montecito, Summerland, and Carpinteria. Of the over 200 cases, it was announced earlier this week that 37 of those are healthcare workers; a number that the Public Health Department was hesitant to release, citing patient privacy issues.
At the Board of Supervisors hearing on Tuesday, Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso showed new modeling that predicts the peak of the virus could occur in Santa Barbara County as early as April 26, predicting 57 deaths in Santa Barbara County by August 4. As of press time, there have been two deaths in the county from the virus; the second was a South County resident above the age of 60, with underlying health conditions. The county’s “surge capacity” at local hospitals is 699, which is anticipated to increase. With a 50% compliance with social distancing measures, modeling shows the county will be well within current capacity of hospital beds.
Dr. Do-Reynoso reported to the Board of Supervisors that social distancing measures may be necessary through the summer, and potentially through November. “It’s a conversation that needs to happen in a variety of contexts and settings, so that we as a community can land on a solution that is doable,” she said. Several board members voiced concern over the potential for extending the shelter-at-home order. “The economic impacts of this are getting overwhelmed by the health impacts. I’ll tell you, if we go until November 1, there are people that are going to be injured and not by sickness. I don’t think we’re balancing the needs of those people trying to make a living very well. There is a tremendous amount of pain right now,” said Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam. “The damage is going to be really deep if we try and go until November. We should start those discussions sooner rather than later. At some point people are going to stop cooperating,” he said. “It is a fact that economic collapse and poverty also kills people. There is an outstanding question on how long you could close most businesses. The question is how long you can do it without hurting more people,” said First District Supervisor Das Williams.
The Supervisors also noted that social distancing has helped slow the spread of disease in Santa Barbara County, according to models. “These numbers are encouraging, as long as folks continue doing what they need to do,” said Chair Gregg Hart regarding the number of cases in Santa Barbara County. “People are making a difference with their social distancing,” said Supervisor Williams.
For the latest info on COVID-19, visit www.publichealthsbc.org/dashboard/.