[Editor’s note: Noozhawk’s weekly COVID-19 email newsletter is delivered to subscribers on Wednesdays. You can sign up here. We are republishing the newsletters on the website so more readers have access to them.]
I’m Noozhawk staff writer Jade Martinez-Pogue with our Weekly COVID-19 Update.
This newsletter is emailed every Wednesday, for free, to our subscribers.
Here’s What We Know
» Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced a $116.5 million giveaway for vaccinated Californians. Ten people selected on June 15 will receive $1.5 million each in cash prizes, while $50,000 prizes will be given to 15 people selected on June 4 and another 15 selected on June 11. Residents who have already received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will automatically be entered in the drawing.
» Santa Barbara County met the least-restrictive yellow tier criteria of California’s tiered reopening framework for the first time Tuesday. The county reported a 1.3 adjusted case rate and a 0.7% testing positivity rate, both of which declined from the previous week. If the county meets the yellow tier criteria again next week, it will officially advance to that tier — just a week before the whole tier system is eliminated.
» Ten new COVID-19 cases have been logged in the county since Friday, Public Health Department officials said Tuesday in reporting daily numbers from the Memorial Day weekend. The number of people still considered infectious dropped by more than 20 between Friday and Tuesday, and there were 28 active cases reported Tuesday.
» There have been 36 new cases reported over the last week, averaging just over five new cases per day. This is nearly a 38% decrease when compared to the week before. The county averaged seven daily COVID-19 hospitalizations and just under three intensive-care unit admissions over the past week.
» There were no new deaths reported in May, and the first death since April 30 was reported on Tuesday. The county’s cumulative COVID-19 death toll stands at 451.
COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
As of Monday, 52% of all eligible county residents (those ages 12 and older) were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and 63.5% of all eligible residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the county’s Community Data Dashboard.
The county reports administering more than 226,000 first-dose vaccines, and nearly 182,000 second-dose vaccines.
The county collects demographic information for people being vaccinated, including race, ethnicity and age, and so far, the dashboard shows white residents (42.8% of the county population) have received 41% of doses and Hispanic/Latino residents (48% of the county population) have received 34% of the doses.
About 4% of doses have been administered to Asian residents, 1% each to black/African-American residents and multiracial residents, and just over 1,000 doses have been administered to locals who listed their race as American Indian Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander.
About 15% of total doses are classified as “missing” since around 36,700 people listed a race and not an ethnicity, according to the county.
On Friday, the county Public Health Department released the latest sample results from May. Slightly more than 64% of the samples collected last month were identified as the United Kingdom variant, just over 7% were identified as the B.1.526 variant of interest, and almost 29% were identified as not a variant of concern or interest.
Earlier this year, more than half of the results were identified as the West Coast strain, but that strain has since become far less prevalent in the county. The United Kingdom variant has been prominent throughout the county since March, as the West Coast strain appears to be phasing out.
There have been 374 samples collected since October, and although that’s a relatively small sample size, it still allows public health officials to get an idea about what is prevalent locally.
Of all the samples collected since October, 62% were identified as a variant of concern, 35.6% were identified as not a variant of concern or interest, and 2.4% were identified as a variant of interest.
Deadly Consequences at Skilled Nursing Facilities
The COVID-19 virus was spread extremely easily at Santa Barbara County congregate-care and skilled nursing facilities.
At least 479 residents and 450 workers at skilled nursing facilities have tested positive for the virus since it arrived in the county in March 2020, and coronavirus-related deaths at congregate-care facilities account for 38% of the local death toll.
Noozhawk’s Brooke Holland has a detailed analysis about the pandemic’s devastating consequences at skilled nursing and congregate-care facilities. Her Monday exclusive is one in a series on the investigation she conducted as part of her USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2020 Data Fellowship.
Summer Camp Guidelines
In California and Santa Barbara County, however, mask mandates will not change before June 15, unless the state Department of Public Health relaxes its mandate, according to Jackie Ruiz, spokeswoman for the county Public Health Department.
Youth day camps must follow specific portions of the state’s K-12 school guidance, according to CDPH. Click here for more information.
Readers have sent us dozens of questions about COVID-19, vaccination, business reopening rules, in-person school, and other pandemic-related issues. Please send yours to [email protected] and we’ll try to include them in future newsletters and Noozhawk Q&As.
Watch the Latest County COVID-19 Briefing
The next county Public Health Department briefing is June 4. Click here to watch it on the county’s YouTube page.
» Find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near you on the county website, publichealthsbc.org/vaccine, or at myturn.ca.gov. Some facilities are now offering walk-ups as well as appointments. The vaccine is free to everyone.
» Find more local pandemic-related information on the Public Health Department website and the county’s COVID-19 recovery page, with resources for business reopening, rental assistance, food assistance and more.
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