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

Here’s What We Know 

» The number of new COVID-19 cases remains low, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

» As of Monday, there were 34 coronavirus-positive patients hospitalized in the county, none of them in intensive-care units. 

» Santa Barbara County continues to have a low community level of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s metric, which is calculated with the county’s case rate and hospitalizations.

» People age 12 and older are recommended to get the bivalent booster vaccine shot that targets Omicron variants of the coronavirus. 

» To find COVID-19 vaccination providers, visit the Public Health Department website and the federal search portal.

State Ends Testing Requirement

On Friday, the California Department of Human Resources published a memo saying unvaccinated state employees at schools, health-care facilities and congregate settings are no longer required to get tested weekly.

“At present, 80% of Californians 12 years of age and older have completed their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, and 48% have received their first booster dose,” California Department Public Health officials said last week in a statement.

“Vaccines for children 5-11 years of age have been available since October 2021. Vaccine coverage is also high among workers in high-risk settings, and the proportion of unvaccinated workers is low.

“As we’ve also seen, the Omicron subvariants have shown immune escape and increased transmissibility, and while unvaccinated individuals still have higher risk of infection, previously infected, vaccinated and boosted persons have also been infected. Consequently, mandated testing of the small number of unvaccinated workers is not effectively preventing disease transmission as it did with the original COVID-19 virus and prior variants earlier in the pandemic.” 

COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker 

About 28.8 million California residents are fully vaccinated. That makes a statewide COVID-19 vaccination rate of 72.1%, a higher rate than Santa Barbara County’s rate of 69.3%.

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 Grace Kitayama can be reached at gkitayama@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.