When they met on the same podium without masks for the first time in more than a year on Tuesday, Santa Barbara County supervisors heard some of the lowest COVID-19 statistics since the pandemic began as they continued to support vaccination efforts.
Managers also received a final report on the county’s RISE program or reopening in a safe environment, which ended last week when the state lifted most pandemic-related restrictions and heard that concessions granted to companies could continue after the pandemic ended.
Van Do-Reynoso, director of the Ministry of Health, said the county has a COVID-19 case rate of 1.1 per 100,000 per day, which was reduced to 1 per 100,000 based on the 224.4 daily tests, of which only 0 total , 7% positive and 0.9% positive were positive in terms of health equity.
None of these are used by the state to determine the status of the district under the now-discontinued Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
“So these are really good statistics for us to judge,” said Do-Reynoso.
Of those eligible, 57.3% are fully vaccinated and 66.2% have received the single dose or the first of two doses. Of the total population, 48.5% are fully vaccinated, while 56% have received the single or the first of two doses.
Broken down by age, the lowest vaccination percentage is in the 12-15 age group, with 24% fully vaccinated and 9% receiving the first of two doses, Do-Reynoso said, noting that this is an increase of 7 % year over year represented last week.
Although the county continues its mobile vaccination program and held 16 clinics last week, the number of doses administered has steadily declined from 1,645 to 441 over the past five weeks.
But the number of people who received a first dose rose to 215 from 142 the previous week.
“So we’re seeing an increase in those who want a first dose,” said Do-Reynoso, taking this as an encouraging sign.
She points out that 455 residents of the county have died of COVID-19 and said an infinity healing ceremony is scheduled for Saturday lunchtime at Solvang Park to commemorate their loss.
Participants will come from all areas of the county and a variety of ethnic, religious, and community groups.
In the final report on the RISE program, Assistant County Executive Office Nancy Anderson said businesses can return to normal operations and the temporary expansion of operations to rights of way and parking will continue until the state of emergency is over.
Anderson said that for businesses such as wineries, breweries and distilleries, temporary emergency food service approvals would continue pending additional notice from the county health officer.
Bob Nelson, chairman of the board and 4th district supervisor, asked if these provisions could continue on an ongoing basis.
“I think a lot of companies have made significant investments and I think the companies like it and the public like it,” Nelson said, adding that he hoped this would be discussed before the state of emergency ends.
Anderson said the Planning and Development, Public Works and Public Health departments are already discussing the continuation of these guidelines.
When asked how the county would deal with the masks issue when the next board meeting opens to the public on July 13, Anderson said the public will self-confirm that they are fully vaccinated by entering without masks, and the district will not participate in enforcing a vaccination certificate.