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Another five people in Santa Barbara County have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the county’s total to 18 on Sunday compared to 13 on Saturday. Notably, the number of tests more than doubled to 493 from the last report of 214 on Thursday. On Tuesday 128 people had tests pending.
Ventura County, about twice as populous as Santa Barbara, was reporting 30 confirmed cases as of Sunday evening with one death. The deceased was in their seventies and suffered from underlying health issues. San Luis Obispo County is reporting 27 positive cases out of a total test sample of 275. Of those, 23 are recovering at home, one has been hospitalized, one has been placed in the Intensive Care Unit, and one has reportedly recovered.
The five new patients announced Sunday evening in Santa Barbara included two people in North County who were ages 40-50. Of the three in South County, two were in their twenties and one was in his or her seventies. To date, the county has declined to release any information relating to the occupation or health status of any of the individuals out of an abundance of sensitivity about patient privacy and the rules of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). County Public Health was not immediately able to say whether any county cases had been hospitalized.
Of the total 493 tests, 245 remain outstanding at testing labs. Public Health noted it can only count the tests reported to the department by doctors or hospitals. Tests are sent to public health or private labs outside the county, which can take anywhere from 24-48 hours to four to six days to return results.
On average, a person infected with a coronavirus generally passes it to two to three others; they in turn pass it to another two or three. That simple, social transmission of oral droplets to a population with no immunity has expanded to the current pandemic. In comparison, measles spreads at a rate of 9-10 people at a time, which is why public health departments will release information about a measles patient’s movements to protect the public. County Public Health teams are tracing contacts for all positive patients.
With no immunity to COVID-19 and no vaccine in sight for at least 12-18 months, Californians have been ordered to “stay healthy at home” in an effort to hold down the rate of infection and keep from overwhelming the health-care system. For more information, visit Santa Barbara County Public Health’s COVID-19 website.
Editor’s Note: This report was updated on March 23 to include tri-county information.