The Centers for Disease Control gave its stamp of approval this Friday to the Moderna vaccine developed for COVID-19, following the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the vaccine earlier this week for people 18 and older. This makes two vaccines to be fully approved for adult use — and no longer on an emergency-use authorization — in the United States: Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the latter of which was approved for people 16 years and older last August.
As the Omicron variant goes into retreat, COVID cases in California have dropped to just below 70,000 new infections per day as of February 4, compared to 110,000 on January 19. In Santa Barbara, 447 new cases were reported today and had reached a peak on January 13 when 1,493 new cases were counted. Comparatively, the state’s numbers reflect a population of 40 million, while Santa Barbara counts 460,000 residents. In the county, a total of 619 people have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with 18 deaths occurring this week alone.
The county nonetheless has a high number of active cases — 3,564 this week — and hospitalizations reflect that number. Among all available staffed hospital beds, 118 are being used for COVID patients and the overall patient load at Cottage, Marian, and Lompoc hospitals is at 74 percent. For staffed intensive care beds, 17 are occupied by COVID patients, eight of them on a ventilator. The ICUs are at 79 percent capacity. Both of those statistics put the county in a red zone with less capacity for an emergency or disaster.
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Vaccination among those 5 years of age and older has reached 79 percent in the county, and “full” vaccination is close to 70 percent. With the drop in cases, however, testing and vaccination have both become more available.
The delays in testing have cleared up with plenty of availability at the free county test sites on Camino del Remedio and in Direct Relief’s parking lot on their next open date, which is Monday, February 7. Testing is also available through medical practices, urgent cares, and some laboratories for a fee. All test sites are listed at or through publichealthsbc.org/testing.
Vaccinations remain free and are available through most medical providers, pharmacies, and the county’s vaccination clinics. This month, they’ll be in Santa Barbara at the following locations — an appointment is advised through MyTurn.ca.gov:
Wednesday, February 9 — Roosevelt Elementary School, 1990 Laguna Street; 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 12 — SBCC, Student Services, 721 Cliff Drive; 9 a.m.-noon.
Thursday, February 17 — Washington Elementary School, 290 Lighthouse Road; 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Friday, February 18 — Girls Inc., 5315 Foothill Road, Carpinteria; 9 a.m.-noon..
Friday, February 18 — Community West Bank, 5827 Hollister Avenue, Goleta; 4-7 p.m.
Saturday, February 26 — S.B. Junior High, 721 East Cota Street; 9 a.m.-noon.
Walk-in vaccinations for a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine are available at a good number of South Coast pharmacies. The full list can be found at publichealthsbc.org/vaccine/. Local vaccine sites can also be found by texting GETVAX at 438829.
At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff continues to cover every aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Support the important work we do by making a