[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 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 

» In the week ending Sept. 7, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 304 new COVID-19 cases and no new related deaths. The previous week, ending Aug. 31, had 565 COVID-19 cases and one death.

» As of Monday, 29 coronavirus-positive individuals were hospitalized in the county, with two being treated in intensive-care units.

» Santa Barbara County remains in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s low COVID Community Level and high community transmission level based on the current case and hospitalization rates.

» The county has a test positivity rate of 8.5%, according to the county’s data dashboard, which means 8.5% of COVID-19 test results in the last week had positive results.

Bivalent Booster Vaccines Available

Bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccines are widely available locally, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

The bivalent boosters — developed by both Pfizer and Moderna — target the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants, as well as the original coronavirus.

Pfizer’s bivalent booster is approved for individuals ages 12 and older, while Moderna’s bivalent booster is approved for those ages 18 and older.

“Essentially, if you are 12 years of age and over, you can get the bivalent vaccine and the only requirement is you wait two months after your last vaccine dose,” Deputy Public Health Director Paige Batson said.

Public health officials are expecting another wave of infections this fall as “immunity from the prior vaccines or prior illness wanes, more contagious omicron subvariants spread, and people spend more time indoors as the weather turns colder and families gather for the holidays,” Sansum Clinic medical director Marjorie Newman said in a recent update.

“The CDC and FDA (Food & Drug Administration) anticipate that the new bivalent boosters will provide more durable protection against infection, mild illness and severe disease. As a result, anyone who is eligible should be encouraged to get a bivalent booster.”

Sansum Clinic CEO Kurt Ransohoff said the bivalent booster will soon be offered to patients during some office visits and “on a limited basis in vaccine clinics.”

Bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccines are also available at local pharmacies and can be found through a search on https://www.vaccines.gov/search/.

Appointment information is also available on the Public Health Department website at https://publichealthsbc.org/vaccine/.

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

» 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, Novavax 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.

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

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Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at sguentz@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.