[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.]

Welcome to Noozhawk’s Weekly COVID-19 Briefing.

I’m Noozhawk staff writer Grace Kitayama 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’s emailed out every Wednesday, for free, to everyone who subscribes.

Here’s What We Know

  • In the week ending March 2 — the most recent data available — the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported an 8.5% increase in PCR test-confirmed cases from the week prior.
  • The COVID-19 Community Level remains low in the county, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention metric, which is based on virus transmission and related hospitalization rates.
  • There was one coronavirus-related death in the county reported last week. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 761 county residents have died of coronavirus-related causes.
  • As of Monday, there were 19 coronavirus-positive patients in county hospitals. That includes 11 patients at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, six at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria and two at Lompoc Valley Medical Center.
  • California health-care providers have administered more than 88 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.                                            

California Mask Guidelines

The state ended its COVID-19 state of emergency last week and will be changing its mask guidance on April 3, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Mask mandates will be replaced with mask recommendations for high-risk settings like health-care facilities, long-term care facilities, emergency shelters and correctional facilities, CDPH officials said.

“Masks are especially important in settings where vulnerable people are residing or being cared for, and increasingly important as the risk for transmission increases in the community,” CDPH officials said in the guidance released last week.

“Health-care facilities and other high-risk setting operators should develop and implement their own facility-specific plans based on their community, patient population and other facility considerations incorporating CDPH and CDC recommendations.”

As individuals, people are advised to choose their prevention behaviors based on the level of virus transmission in their community, their own risk tolerance of being infected, and their own risk for severe illness if infected, according to CDPH.

State public health officials continue to recommend wearing a mask whenever you have respiratory symptoms like a cough, runny nose or sore throat; for indoor areas of public transportation; and if you’ve been recently exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Read the face covering guidance that goes into effect April 3 here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

As of March 2, 70% of Santa Barbara County residents — 317,568 people — have received their primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Public Health Department. The county reports that 60% of residents have completed their primary series and been boosted, and 24.4% of residents have received their bivalent booster shot.

County health-care providers have administered 958,190 doses of the vaccine.

Statewide, 72.7% of Californians have received their primary dose of the vaccine, 61.2% have received the complete dose and been boosted, and 24.8% have received their bivalent booster shot.

Got Questions?

Readers have sent us dozens of questions about coronavirus 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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Grace Kitayama, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Grace Kitayama is a Noozhawk staff writer.