The Public Health Department did not update its COVID-19 databases until Monday morning for Sunday numbers, and eventually reported 40 new cases and a continued drop in Santa Barbara County hospitalizations. 

State database reporting problems have resulted in underreported cases in the past week or so, according to the county, which still has a disclaimer on its website. 

Santa Barbara County reported 63 COVID-19-positive patients in local hospitals Sunday, the lowest number since July 2. It is unclear whether the decrease in cases is due to patients recovering and being discharged, patients passing away, or both. 

Most COVID-19 hospital patients in Santa Barbara County are at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, which has been the case throughout the pandemic.

As of Friday, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital reported 29 confirmed patients (with a positive test results), including three people on ventilators in an intensive care unit.

Lompoc Valley Medical Center currently has no COVID-19-positive patients, CEO Steve Popkin said Friday, after having about five people for the past several weeks.

The facility has had 27 total COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic, plus an undisclosed number of patients from the Lompoc federal correctional complex, Popkin said. Of those 27 community members, the ages ranged from 31 to 100, and the median age was 62, he said.

Hospitalization chart

Santa Barbara County has reported a declining number of COVID-19-positive hospital patients in recent days, according to the Public Health Department.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk illustration)

Public Health officials have talked for months about disclosing this type of general demographic information for hospitalizations countywide, but have not done so.

Epidemiologists did released information for some patients in a May report, which revealed that older people had longer hospital stays, but patients in their 30s and 40s spent as much as three weeks in the hospital before being discharged.

Hospital stays longer than 40 days were recorded for patients in the 50-69 age group and 70-plus age group.

Santa Barbara County patients had an average length of stay of 11.9 days between March 15 and May 8, according to the Public Health Department.

That report included demographic information for 89 patients who had been discharged from local hospitals as of May 8. Almost half of the those COVID-19 hospital patients were admitted to an intensive care unit at some point in their stay.

Six skilled nursing facilities are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, according to county and state records, and residents deaths were reported last week at the Buena Vista Care Center and Valle Verde Health Facility, both in Santa Barbara.

In addition to those deaths, which were reported Friday, skilled nursing home residents have died of COVID-19 at Alto Lucero Transitional Care in Santa Barbara, Country Oaks Care Center in Santa Maria, Lompoc Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Care Center and Marian Extended Care, according to state records.

Santa Barbara County RegionNew positive cases reported in past two weeks*
Santa Maria430
Guadalupe and North County unincorporated areas45
Santa Ynez Valley13
Isla Vista80
Western Goleta Valley and Gaviota23
Santa Barbara and Mission Canyon180
Carpinteria and South County unincorporated areas22

*The Public Health Department has the following disclaimer on its website, saying the recent number of positive cases is probably underreported: “The state’s electronic disease reporting system has been experiencing issues processing incoming reports. Therefore, recent data published on the SB County Public Health COVID-19 dashboards are likely to be an underestimate of true cases in the county. This disclaimer will be in place until the state reporting issue is rectified.”

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.