[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.

This newsletter is a way for Noozhawk readers to get important updates in one place. It’s emailed every Wednesday, for free, to everyone who subscribes.

Here’s What We Know 

» The Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use authorization in children ages 5 to 11, which means the shots could soon be available for this age group.

» There have been 344 cases of COVID-19 reported in Santa Barbara County over the week ending Tuesday, averaging a little more than 49 new cases per day. That is a decrease of roughly 17% from the week prior when an average of 59 new cases a day were reported.

» Seven deaths were reported during the two weeks ending Tuesday, and the county’s cumulative COVID-19 death toll stands at 524. Three of the latest deaths were people over age 70, and two each were in the 30-to-49 and 50-to-69 age ranges. Three of them were from Santa Maria, two from Santa Barbara, and one each from the Santa Ynez Valley and the area of Montecito, Summerland and the Carpinteria Valley.

» Santa Barbara County’s indoor mask mandate is supposed to expire Friday. The ordinance, which requires everyone to wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status, originally went into effect Aug. 6 and was extended for another month on Oct. 5. Officials say the mandate will be lifted when the county reports a case rate of less than six daily new cases per 100,000 people for two weeks, according to the Public Health Department. The case rate is currently at 9 per 100,000 people (equivalent to 41 new daily cases).

» About 80% of the 303 new cases reported in the week ending Thursday were among unvaccinated residents, according to the county’s Community Data Dashboard. That trend has been consistent since Public Health Department officials started tracking vaccination status among people who test positive for the coronavirus. There were 240 new cases reported among unvaccinated residents and 63 among vaccinated residents.

» UC Santa Barbara partnered with local agencies to feed those in need over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Campus Dining prepared and delivered more than 260,000 meals to 15 local community agencies between October 2020 and July 2021.

» The number of COVID-19-positive hospital patients in Santa Barbara County was 43 on Tuesday, including 11 people in intensive-care units.

Vaccine Doses By Month

County providers administered 35,741 vaccine doses in October, the largest monthly number since May, according to the county’s Community Data Dashboard. It is also nearly 9,000 more doses than the 26,264 delivered in September.

The county reported administering 27,164 doses in August, 19,890 in July and 32,663 in June. The county delivered the largest number of vaccine doses in April when 150,718 shots were administered.

Providers have been reporting an increase in first-dose shots statewide, and booster shots are now available for all three COVID-19 vaccines, which is likely increasing the demand.

COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

About 60% of Santa Barbara County residents are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and that number increases to 71.5% when only eligible people (age 12 or older) are counted, according to the county’s Community Data Dashboard.

Residents between ages 50 and 64 have the highest percentage of fully vaccinated individuals at 84%, followed by those between ages 65 and 74 at 81% and those older than 75 also at 81%, according to the dashboard.

As of this week, 67% of residents between ages 16 and 29 are fully vaccinated, 63% of the 30-to-49 age group are fully vaccinated, and 55% of 12- to 15-year-olds are fully vaccinated.

The county reports administering more than 585,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including more than 279,400 first doses, more than 250,150 second doses and 23,751 single-dose vaccines.

When Should I Get the COVID-19 Booster Shot?

The FDA granted emergency use authorizations for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster shots on Oct. 20, also allowing people to mix and match the vaccine manufacturers for the booster doses.

The booster shots offer more protection and strengthen the immune system following the first two doses or the single-dose J&J vaccine, according to Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Henning Ansorg.

“COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant,” he said. “However, waning levels of antibodies can lead to reduced protection, especially among persons over 65 or individuals of any age with chronic medical conditions.”

The booster shot is recommended for anyone over the age of 65, people between ages 18 and 64 who are at high risk of severe coronavirus infection, or anyone between ages 18 and 64 with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to the virus.

People older than age 18 who received the J&J vaccine may get a booster shot at least two months after their original dose, and people who originally got the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna two-dose vaccine series may get a booster shot at least six months after the date of the second dose.

Booster shots are administered at local pharmacies, or through California’s vaccine scheduling website MyTurn.ca.gov. Click here for more Public Health information on the vaccines and local providers.

Got Questions?

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 news@noozhawk.com and we’ll try to include them in future newsletters and Noozhawk Q&As.

Reader Resources

» Find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near you on the Vaccine Finder search function of https://www.vaccines.gov/search/. You can search for providers by location and by specific vaccine available (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson). You can also find providers on the county website, publichealthsbc.org/vaccine, or at myturn.ca.gov. Some facilities offer walk-ups as well as appointments.

» Text your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) for a list of vaccine providers in English, or text your ZIP code to VACUNA (822862) for a list in Spanish. 

» There are free COVID-19 testing facilities around the county.

» 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.

» Click here for Noozhawk’s complete Coronavirus Crisis coverage.

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Noozhawk staff writer Jade Martinez-Pogue can be reached at jmartinez-pogue@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Jade Martinez-Pogue

Jade Martinez-Pogue, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Jade Martinez-Pogue can be reached at jmartinez-pogue@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.