By Raiza Giorgi
Santa Barbara County Public Health officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said he was initially glad to see the case counts lessening over the past 10 days, however the State has notified him there has been an error in underreporting cases through their system during that time. Hospitalizations and deaths are not included in this as they are reported through a different system, Ansorg added.
“This issue may impact local efforts to contact trace and investigate. They instructed all labs in California to manually report all case numbers to local public health officials. They are working to add capacity to their reporting systems. We share today with a disclaimer this time we cannot be assured these new case numbers accurately reflect our local situation,” Ansorg said.
The state’s electronic disease reporting system has been experiencing issues processing incoming reports, Ansorg said at Tuesday’s press briefing, which therefore makes recent data published on the Public Health COVID-19 dashboard an underestimate of true cases in the county.
There is now a disclaimer that will be in place until the state reporting issue is fixed, Ansorg said.
Over the past week or so the number of positive cases have been under 100 each day with the lowest at 31 reported Sunday, Aug. 2. Today’s case count was at 62, with 88 in the hospital recovering and 25 in the ICU.
Currently in the Santa Ynez Valley there is one active case, with 70 fully recovered and two deaths (also due to an oversight of County death records that wasn’t reported until last Friday). The County is also reporting three additional deaths of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19. All three individuals were over 70 years of age. Two of the three decedents had underlying health conditions. One person resided in the North County Unincorporated area, one person in the City of Lompoc, and one person in the City of Santa Maria.
Ansorg said that since the County is still on the State’s watchlist there is no foreseeable date of school’s reopening and no waivers will be accepted that would allow for smaller districts to be under strict guidelines of how to conduct in-person learning.
Cathy Fisher who is the Agricultural Commissioner for the County spoke about implementing guidelines for agricultural workers, who seem to be in the high majority of cases as a lot of workers live in housing with several people as well as commute to work either in cars, vans or buses to remote agriculture fields.
“We work with farmers to make sure that their workers wear masks and social distance as much as possible and sanitize any and all vechicles after transporting people to fields. We are also working with the state on hotel rooms for workers that test positive and so they can self-isolate to not spread to their co-workers or relatives,” Fisher said.
If any agricultural worker has been wrongly let go or terminated due to COVID they can report to Cal OSHA on their website and submit anonymously.