With a decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases this week, Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 community level decreased from high to medium, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This metric reflects a region’s new cases per 100,000 population and new COVID-19-related hospital admissions per 100,000 people. The county continues to have high community transmission, a metric based solely on the number of new cases.
The weekly average of new COVID-19 cases had decreased 7.7% as of Thursday, Public Health officials said. It’s an underreporting of total cases in the community, since rapid antigen home test results are not usually reported to the county.
San Luis Obispo County also decreased from a high to medium CDC COVID-19 community level this week.
Santa Barbara County reported 39 COVID-19-positive hospital patients as of Thursday, including three people being treated in intensive-care units.
Three COVID-19-related deaths have been reported in the past week, and 708 deaths of local residents have been reported so far during the pandemic.
The county’s Public Health Department says there continues to be high community transmission of the virus but that there is no need for a mask mandate since local hospitals are not being overwhelmed with severely ill COVID-19 patients.
Masks are recommended in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor spaces, but they’re not required. There are still mandates for masks in health care facilities, long-term care homes and some congregate living centers.
The county hit a 69% COVID-19 vaccination rate this week.
Young children are vaccinated at lower rates overall, especially children younger than age 5, who became eligible for the doses in June.
Older adults older than age 65, who have a higher risk of severe illness from a COVID-19 infection, have the highest vaccination rate of 93.7%.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it doesn’t plan to authorize second booster vaccine shots for adults younger than age 50 at this time.
Booster shots are available for everyone age 5 or older, and second booster shots are available for people older than age 50 and younger people who have certain kinds of immunocompromise.
“U.S. regulators said Friday they are no longer considering authorizing a second COVID-19 booster shot for all adults under 50 this summer, focusing instead on revamped vaccines for the fall that will target the newest viral subvariants,” The Associated Press reported. “Pfizer and Moderna expect to have updated versions of their shots available as early as September, the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement. That would set the stage for a fall booster campaign to strengthen protection against the latest versions of Omicron.”