[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 Serena Guentz with the latest COVID-19 news in Santa Barbara County

This newsletter is a way for Noozhawk readers to get important updates in one place. 

It is emailed out every Wednesday, for free, to everyone who subscribes.

Here’s What We Know 

  • California’s COVID-19 state of emergency ended Tuesday. Gov. Gavin Newsom first declared the state of emergency on March, 4, 2020. He used the declaration’s broad powers to issue dozens of executive orders that, among other things, locked down business; required the COVID-19 vaccine for schoolchildren, health-care workers and state employees; imposed an eviction moratorium; and mandated the wearing of masks.
  • The federal state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic is scheduled to end in May. “When it does, so will many of the policies designed to combat the virus’s spread,” which could include free-to-consumer COVID-19 vaccines, test kits and treatments, Kaiser Health News reports
  • In the week ending Feb. 20 — the most recent data available — the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 167 COVID-19 cases. The previous week had 187 cases and one related death reported.
  • On Monday, there were 26 coronavirus-positive patients hospitalized in the county, eight of them in intensive-care units.
  • According to the county’s weekly summary on its data dashboard, the weekly average of reported PCR-confirmed cases decreased by 18.1% in the week ending Feb. 23. This is an underreporting of COVID-19 cases in the county as most people are being tested with rapid antigen home tests that often are not reported to the Public Health Department.
  • Santa Barbara County remains in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s low COVID-19 community level.
  • The Food & Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization on Feb. 24 for the first over-the-counter, at-home test that can detect both the flu and COVID-19 viruses within about 30 minutes.
  • FBI director Christopher Wray said this week that his agency has determined that the pandemic was likely caused by a leak from a government-run virology lab in Wuhan, China, following a similar assessment from the Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, according to news reports. Other Biden administration agencies think the pandemic was caused by natural transmission. “White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Monday the U.S. government has not reached a definitive conclusion and consensus on the pandemic’s origins,” Reuters reported.

COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

According to the Santa Barbara County’s data dashboard, about 70% of residents have completed the primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 60% have completed the primary series and received a booster dose. About 24.2% of residents have received a bivalent booster dose.

The county’s numbers are just slightly lower than the statewide vaccination rates, with 72.7% of California residents having completed the primary series of the vaccine, 61.2% of residents statewide also having received a booster dose, and 24.6% of California residents have received a bivalent booster.

Got Questions?

Readers have sent us dozens of questions about pandemic-related issues. Please send yours to news@noozhawk.com and we’ll try to include them in future newsletters and Noozhawk Q&As.  

Reader Resources

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Serena Guentz, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at sguentz@noozhawk.com.