Santa Barbara County has 11 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday for a total of 228, following a linear growth pattern that public health officials say is good news for the rate of spread in the county.
"The fact that our numbers are increasing on such a linear path is reassuring. I now can comfortably say that we as a county are meeting our goal with our efforts to limit the spread as much as possible in our geographic area," county Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said at a press conference.
However, Ansorg advised the public not to waver in their practice of social distancing, good hygiene and wearing masks outside of the home in order prevent rates of spread from rising.
Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso noted that county case projections shared at a Tuesday Board of Supervisors meeting show drastic differences in spread and demand on hospitals based on the levels of social distancing in the county.
The projections show 40% compliance with social distancing yielding a peak 1,200 cases needing hospitalization by July, while higher compliance of 50% could yield a peak of 274 hospitalized cases in August, spreading out the number of cases and demand on hospitals over time.
However, Do-Reynoso said the projections are not definite, and will likely change as time goes on.
"As we input different real time data we’ll see [some] variation in the curves," she said.
Of the 228 cases in the county, 112 are recovering at home, 69 are fully recovered, 37 are hospitalized with 17 in intensive care units, and the county is awaiting updates on the remaining eight cases.
Of the 11 new cases, two are in the South County unincorporated area, one is in the unincorporated area of Goleta Valley and Gaviota, one is in Santa Maria, two are in Orcutt, and five are in Lompoc.
The five Lompoc cases include one inmate at the federal penitentiary, the location of the only known outbreak in a congregate setting in the county.
The county's epidemiology team has reported that thus far, 30 inmates and 14 staff members at the penitentiary have tested positive for the virus, with the county Public Health Department working with the prison to stop and contain the spread as much as possible.
In addition, after weeks of pursuing equipment that would permit COVID-19 testing at the county's Public Health Lab with same-day results, the county has obtained 200 testing kits from molecular diagnostics company Cepheid, Ansorg said.
The tests will allow further testing of high-priority patients including the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, first responders and health-care workers.
"This is an important milestone in achieving faster results which facilitate immediate isolation of positive cases and quarantining their contacts," Ansorg said.
San Luis Obispo County confirmed three additional COVID-19 cases for a total of 102 as of Wednesday.