Santa Barbara County will likely be in the red tier again as early as Tuesday.
The winter surge in cases is now over, Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso announced Friday, the one-year mark since the county’s first COVID-19 press conference. Not only that, she said, but virus metrics have decreased substantially with the adjusted case rate at 9.7 and the positivity rate at 3.6 percent.
“The less-restrictive red tier will bring us new opportunities for business and entertainment venues to open up,” Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said. “It also presents us with a challenge to continue to be safe and not fall back into another virus surge.”
The California Department of Public Health today reached its goal to administer two million vaccines to those living in the state’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. Because the goal was met, the standard for entering the red tier was widened from requiring a case rate of less than seven to less than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents ― which the county currently meets. Because of this, the county expects to be moved to the red tier Tuesday.
Closing in on the red tier isn’t the only sign the pandemic is improving in Santa Barbara County. After months of struggling with cases in the county’s Main Jail, today it announced that it has been cleared of all of the active COVID-19 cases, while one additional deputy has been found to be COVID-19 positive.
People aged 16-64 with underlying medical conditions at increased risk from COVID-19 will become eligible for the vaccine Monday, March 15.
The new group will be eligible alongside people 65 and older, health-care workers, transitional kindergarten to 12th-grade staff, higher education staff, childcare and preschool staff, agricultural workers, grocery store workers, and emergency workers.
The county has received 117,740 doses of vaccine. Of that, it has administered 61,295 first doses and 33,561 second doses. The vaccine data, however, has a three-day lag, and the county has actually achieved 81 percent of doses administered. The remaining doses are slated for clinics in the next few days.
About 10 percent of the county’s 18-and-older population are fully vaccinated, and give or take 15 percent have received at least one dose.
Though the vaccine supply has been steadily increasing the past several weeks, Ansorg warned that it should stay the same for the next few weeks despite new groups getting eligibility and resources will be limited.
“Please be patient,” Ansorg said. “By April, we should see a dramatic increase in available vaccines and hopefully by May, everybody who wants a vaccine will be able to get it.”