California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday declared an end to the state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The governor’s office highlighted the state’s numbers for health, the economy and education as reasons for ending the state of emergency.

California’s COVID-19 death rate was among the lowest in the nation, and the state administered more than 88 million vaccines, according to the governor’s office.

To address the next phase of the pandemic, the state will follow the SMARTER Plan. “SMARTER” is an acronym for shots, masks, awareness, readiness, testing, education and prescriptions.

The ending of the state of emergency is following the trends of COVID-19, said Dr. Mouhanad Hammami, Santa Barbara County’s public health director.

“Ending the state of emergency is a good thing,” Hammami said. “That means we are no longer operating in an emergency mode, where we have to put all our resources towards COVID, and that is because we are seeing a very much lower threat from the pandemic.”

The county’s COVID-19 hospital admission rates were at 5% in January and 3% in February.

In January, 10 people in Santa Barbara County died of COVID-19. In February, there were three reported COVID-19-related deaths in the county.

Additionally, 72% of people in the county have received their primary vaccines against the virus.

“So, all these indicators mean that we have made a lot of progress,” Hammami said.

However, it does not mean the virus is gone completely. Hammami stressed the importance of people’s individual responsibility to get an at-home test if they believe they have COVID-19.

“The minute you have a positive test, then it is your responsibility to probably quarantine yourself from the rest of your colleagues or the rest of your family,” Hammami said. “And this is where we can stay vigilant. The minute you feel any symptoms that you suspect might be related to COVID, then let’s do a quick test.”

The first case of COVID-19 in the county occurred in March 2020.

“The response and coordination to the COVID-19 incident, and the conditions of extreme peril, no longer exist, therefore signifying the end of the local emergency and local health emergency,” according to the agenda letter for the county Board of Supervisors.

Newsom declared the state of emergency on March 4, 2020. Eight days later, the Santa Barbara County health officer declared the virus a local health emergency.

Emergency powers necessary to respond to COVID-19 are no longer needed, according to the termination resolution.

“I think that the silver lining is that it showed us that prevention works,” Hammami said.

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Grace Kitayama, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Grace Kitayama is a Noozhawk staff writer.