Following the latest Blueprint for a Safer Economy tier assessment, Santa Barbara County met all of the moderate orange tier criteria for the first time on Tuesday, and is on track to officially advance into the less-restrictive orange tier next week.

The county reported an adjusted rate of 4.6 daily new cases per 100,000 people, a 1.9% testing positivity rate, and a 2.7% health equity testing positivity rate.

All three metrics declined since the previous reporting period.

If the county maintains these low numbers into next week, it will advance to the orange tier as soon as April 20, Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said at Friday’s county COVID-19 briefing.

The county needs to meet all the orange tier criteria for two consecutive weeks in order to officially move to the next tier.

Advancing to the orange tier means expanded indoor and outdoor capacity for restaurants and entertainment venues, as well as eased restrictions for other industry sectors.

Santa Barbara County Public Health officials reported only 11 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, and no additional deaths for the seventh day in a row.

The county’s cumulative COVID-19 death toll remained at 441.

There were 143 cases still considered to be infectious throughout the county. The daily number of active cases has not been that low since Nov. 7, 2020, according to Noozhawk’s data tracking.

There were 21 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, including four in intensive-care units. The county’s ICU availability rate was 29.9%.

Of Tuesday’s new cases, five were from the Santa Maria Valley, four were from Santa Barbara, and one was from the Goleta Valley. One case is still pending geographic location.

As of Monday, 21.5% of the county’s population was fully vaccinated, according to the county’s Community Data Dashboard.

On Tuesday, the California Department of Public Health announced that it has directed health care providers to pause the use of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended the pause on Tuesday out of an abundance of caution, said Erica Pan, state epidemiologist.

Of more than 6.8 million doses administered nationally, there have been six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot, with symptoms occurring six to 13 days after vaccination, Pan said.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will follow the state’s guidance and pause the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until further notice, Jackie Ruiz, spokeswoman for Public Health, told Noozhawk. 

Any clinics scheduled for this week that originally planned to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will not be canceled, but instead use the Moderna vaccine, she added.

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