Hospitalization rate for Aug 12

Santa Barbara County has seen rising hospitalizations for COVID-19-positive patients since early June, according to Public Health Department numbers.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara County announced an additional COVID-19-related death — of an elderly South Coast resident — on Wednesday, and reported very few new cases because the state’s database problems continue to cause underreporting.

County Public Health officials said the death was a person older than age 70 who lived in the Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria area.

The county also reviewed a June death of a person in the 18-29 age range and determined it was not COVID-19 related, a department official said.

There have been 73 deaths reported in the county as of Wednesday — zero in March, nine in April, five in May, 20 in June and 29 in July.

Ten deaths have been reported in August, but the Public Health Department has not said when the deaths occurred. Some may be delayed reporting of deaths that occurred in June and July. 

The statewide undercounting of positive cases has lasted at least a week, according to the county, which has a disclaimer on its data dashboard websites.

Sixteen new cases were reported Wednesday from 471 novel coronavirus test results. 

“We send our thoughts of comfort and condolences to the grieving families,” Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said in a statement Wednesday.

“As school goes back into session via distance learning over the next couple of weeks, our lives will again need to adapt to everyday living that is so different than our pre-COVID routines. Please remain vigilant. The more we can do to slow the spread, the quicker we can move to expanded reopening. Wear a face covering and stay at least 6 feet from others. It’s our best defense at this time.” 

The Public Health Department has extended the current health order closures to Sept. 10, which affect indoor operations at gyms, hair and nail salons, noncritical offices, and places of worship.

The order also prohibits in-person higher education (with some exemptions for labs and other specialized indoor spaces); indoor parties, weddings and receptions; rodeos and public equestrian events; and organized sports and team sports, according to the department.

Public Health has reported five recent deaths of elderly residents in congregate living facilities on the South Coast, including two people in Santa Barbara and three in the Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria area. 

The county will not identify which facilities have had resident deaths, but state and county databases indicate at least one recent death at Alto Lucero Transitional Care in Santa Barbara and at least one death at the Lompoc Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Care Center.

The county is working with 11 congregate care facilities in the county to do widespread testing, which is required when a facility reports at least one case among residents or staff members, according to Jan Koegler, manager of the Public Health Department emergency preparedness program. 

Santa Barbara County RegionNew positive cases reported in the past two weeks 
Santa Maria520
Guadalupe and North County unincorporated areas43
Santa Ynez Valley14
Isla Vista58
Western Goleta Valley and Gaviota27
Santa Barbara and Mission Canyon204
Carpinteria and South County unincorporated areas42
Countywide total1,104
Santa Barbara County Public Health DepartmentAug. 12

Difference from previous day

Total positive cases7,083+ 16
COVID-19-related deaths 73+ 1, removing June case
COVID-19 patients in county hospitals79+ 3
COVID-19 ICU patients31+ 0
Total test results00
Seven-day average test positivity rate5.9%-1.4%

About These Charts

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is the source of these COVID-19 numbers. 

» Total positive cases: A positive test result means someone tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. This is typically done with a nasal swab test, which looks for an active infection, and these numbers do not include results from antibody tests. Even if a person tests positive multiple times, they are counted as one positive case. 

» COVID-19-related deaths: The Public Health Department counts COVID-19-related deaths of people who have COVID-19 as a major or contributing cause of death, including people who were hospitalized with symptoms or died at home and had tested positive in life or after death during a Coroner’s Bureau investigation. 

» COVID-19 patients in county hospitals: This chart reflects the hospitalization number reported by the county Public Health Department, which are confirmed COVID-19 patients with a positive test result. Intensive care unit patients are more severely ill, and some of them are using ventilators to breathe.  

» Total test results: The county’s tally of tests includes positive and negative results from health care providers (doctor’s offices, public health clinics, hospitals, etc.), the state-run community testing sites, the federal prison complex in Lompoc and other sources. The county reports a number of new test results daily, which fluctuates depending on laboratory delays and the day of the week. The state metric is 675 tests daily for Santa Barbara County.

» Seven-day average test positivity rate: The positivity rate tracks how many of the people being tested get a positive result. Since the number of daily tests fluctuates so much, the county tracks this as a rolling seven-day average. The positivity rate was high in the early days of the pandemic, when testing was limited to severely ill people at the emergency room, and dropped once testing was more widespread, capturing more healthy, uninfected people. Delays at laboratories across the country have caused limiting testing again, and that, combined with increased community transmission of the virus, has caused a higher positivity rate in Santa Barbara County. 

Click here for Noozhawk’s Coronavirus section.

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

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Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at