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Santa Barbara County officials urge COVID-19 testing at state sites as cases rise

Santa Barbara County officials urge COVID-19 testing at state sites as cases rise

From the What you need to know for Thursday, November 19 series

With COVID-19 rates rising again in Santa Barbara County, public health officials are urging residents to continue seeking COVID-19 testing, especially at state-run testing sites in Santa Maria, Buellton and Goleta.

Testing has been expanded at all three OptumServe sites to allow 165 tests per day, according to Public Health Department Director Van Do-Reynoso, which will allow for more community access to testing. 

The Santa Maria and Buellton testing sites are not meeting capacity requirements, with about 100 daily tests being performed at each site, which could violate terms of agreement with the state, Do-Reynoso said. 

"This is a worry for us, because we need to [exceed] 85% utilization in order to maintain these testing sites," she said. 

Despite lower testing in the North County, slots have been regularly filled at the state site in Goleta, Do-Reynoso said. To accommodate community needs, the county has been permitted to expand testing in Goleta to six days a week, with the site also open on Saturdays. 

"The additional five extra days per month means we have 825 new appointment slots available," she said. 

Public Health officials will be sponsoring walk-up testing sites for essential workers throughout the county over the coming weeks, Do-Reynoso said. There are also plans in the works to expand testing through collaboration with the business sector, she added. 

Daily COVID-19 cases  

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed an additional 91 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with active cases now rising into the 300s.

Wednesday marked the county's highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases since early August in what has been a steady surge in cases over the past two weeks.

Of the 91 cases confirmed, 24 were confirmed in Santa Maria, 21 were in Santa Barbara and 12 were in Lompoc, with the rest spread throughout the county. 

COVID-19 hospitalizations saw a slight rise from Tuesday, with 17 individuals currently hospitalized, including four in the ICU, according to county public health data

In the city of Santa Maria, 86 out of 4,366 total cases remain active. Seventy-two individuals have died.

In the community of Orcutt, 19 out of 443 total cases remain active. Six individuals have died.

In the city of Lompoc, 31 out of 1,026 total cases remain active. Eight individuals have died.

In the Santa Ynez Valley, which includes the areas of Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez and Ballard, 13 out of 205 total cases remain active. Seven individuals have died.

In the unincorporated North County area, which includes Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and Guadalupe, 10 out of 490 total cases remain active. Seven individuals have died.  

The total number of cases in the county is now 10,702, with 301 cases still considered active and contagious. 

In neighboring San Luis Obispo County, 79 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed Tuesday, bringing the county to a new total of 5,400 cases, with 757 still considered active. 

While COVID-19 testing remains available at state-run sites in Santa Barbara County, officials with the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department have announced that their sites are overwhelmed. 

"We have a huge demand for testing at our state sites," San Luis Obispo County Health Officer Penny Borenstein said. 

Residents in San Luis Obispo County who are seeking testing but not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to pursue at-home nasal swab testing rather than going to state-run sites. 

Options for at-home testing kits include Let’s Get Checked Home KitsLabCorps Pixe and Picture by Fulgent Genetics

Concerned about COVID-19?

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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