It’s time to batten down the hatches again, Santa Barbara County officials implored the public Friday, as the rate of new coronavirus infections continue to climb and an inevitable surge in hospitalizations and deaths looms over the coming weeks.
“We are facing another rapid increase in COVID-19 cases,” said Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, director of the Public Health Department. “I anticipate more difficult days ahead.”
Detailed information on Santa Barbara’s metrics are available on the county’s newly released Community Data Dashboard, found here. The current number of active cases ― 313 ― mirrors those reported over the summer, during the last major spike. Seventy-four new cases were reported today. The death count stands at 133.
Since March, eight long months ago, Santa Barbarans have shown incredible patience and fortitude in fighting the spread of the virus, Do-Reynoso said. Our figures, while cause for serious concern, remain below the rates of neighboring San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties. But we can’t let our guard down. Limiting Thanksgiving gatherings to your immediate household is critical, she said, acknowledging the lockdown fatigue felt by all.
How well we follow health orders now, Do-Reynoso continued ― including those spelled out in Santa Barbara’s relapse into the Purple Tier and the nighttime curfew that goes into effect for most of the state tomorrow ― will be reflected in the number of people who fall ill shortly before Christmas.
“Let us not become weary in doing good,” Do-Reynoso intoned, quoting from the Bible, “for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart echoed Do-Reynoso and emphasized the unrelenting demand on Santa Barbara’s doctors and nurses.
“There will be no holiday break for the exhausted health care community,” he said. Testing demand has increased so much at the Goleta site that it will now open on Tuesdays.
Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons, an infectious disease specialist with Cottage Health, said the county is “clearly entering the next chapter” of the COVID-19 battle. The sacrifices that are made now will “dictate the shape of December,” she said. Things are moving so rapidly that “no one knows what January will look like.”
As the virus lives on, the medical community’s knowledge of it grows, Fitzgibbons said. Infected people typically develop symptoms 3-14 days after exposure, with symptoms steadily getting worse after the first signs of sickness. Approximately 10-15 percent of patients need to be hospitalized, Fitzgibbons said, with death taking the sickest in one to three weeks of being admitted.
Stay home, wear a mask, and wash your hands, she reminded.
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