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COVID-19 claimed its first life in Santa Barbara County today.
The male patient died at Marian Medical Center and was in his sixties with underlying health conditions, County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said. No further details were given about the victim other than that he was in the hospital’s intensive care unit and on a ventilator before he died.
“Our lives have been so upended the past few weeks it’s very hard to focus on anything other than the COVID-19 pandemic,” Santa Barbara County Supervisor Gregg Hart said at the Wednesday press conference.
“I’m saddened to report we now have our first COVID-19 death in Santa Barbara County,” Hart continued. “We’ve heard about many deaths from around the world during this pandemic, but that doesn’t take away from the pain we feel as a community during this moment.”
There are now 111 total COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County. Sixty-five of them are recovering at home, 17 are in the hospital, 13 of which are in the ICU, 23 are recovered, and Public Health is still unsure of six cases.
Dr. Ansorg also reported that the county is actively securing new sites for surge beds, although hospitals are not filled to maximum capacity yet.
“Even though we do not expect any alternate care sites until the end of April or May, we will be able to receive a small amount of additional patients as soon as next week at the old Lompoc Hospital,” he said. “We are actively trying to secure more sites in North County, as well as in the Santa Barbara area.”
Editor’s Note: The former Lompoc Hospital will not be used as an alternative care site for COVID-19 patients. The county is continuing to look at a multitude of potential alternative care sites, however the former hospital is not one of them. It will be used for the development of a facility to serve the mentally ill.
On the supply front, Ansorg also reported that the county now has 85 ventilators.
Van Do-Reynoso, director of County Public Health, said that “any day now” the county will be able to test for the virus at its own public health labs, rather than relying on Ventura and the state to process tests and that the county ordered rapid-testing kits. “We will continue to rely on our regional partners and the state,” she said, but being able to process tests locally too will result in a huge boost in testing capacity.
At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of this crisis — sorting truth from rumor. Our reporters and editors are asking the tough questions of our public health officials and spreading the word about how we can all help one another. The community needs us — now more than ever — and we need you in order to keep doing the important work we do. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.