By Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP, Health Officer County of Santa Barbara, Department of Public Health
Santa Barbara County is seeing an alarming increase in new case rates for COVID-19, with active cases up 90% over two weeks ago. With the current uptick, it is expected that the daily case rates will continue to increase and cause a new wave of infection similar to the Summer of 2020.
The biggest obstacle to stopping the virus is the proportion of unvaccinated community members. In Santa Barbara County, an unvaccinated person is15 times more likely to get infected and fall ill from COVID-19 compared to if they were vaccinated. The new surge is truly a wave of unvaccinated people falling ill and spreading the virus to others.
Severe COVID-19 can be very dangerous: The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner you, your friends and family will be protected.
How do I protect myself against variants?
• Get vaccinated if you are 12 years of age or older. The three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the US offer the best protection against all variants currently spreading here. They have proven to be very safe and effective. If you have concerns or questions about COVID-19 vaccines, talk with your doctor. If you are already vaccinated, encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to get vaccinated.
• Wear a mask. Masks remain the most powerful tool to protect yourself from infection and others if you were unknowingly spreading the virus before developing symptoms. Make sure you wear a well-fitting mask that covers both your mouth and nose in public indoor settings. Because the Delta variant is capable to occasionally infect vaccinated people, we strongly recommend that fully vaccinated persons also wear masks indoors in public places .
Learn more about masks at https://publichealthsbc.org/individual-health/.
• Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer often - especially after being in public spaces where surfaces are touched by many people.
How do I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Vaccines are available across Santa Barbara County and free to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many vaccination sites take walk-ins, or you can choose to make an appointment.
• Visit https://publichealthsbc.org/vaccine/ to find a location near you.
• Visit https://www.vaccines.gov/ for additional locations
• Information is also available in many languages 24/7 by calling 2-1-1.
• TEXT: GETVAX (438829) for English or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish