Officials with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed on Friday that "several" residents have died in a COVID-19 outbreak at skilled nursing facility Santa Maria Post Acute.
The outbreak, first confirmed in late September, has infected 46 of the facility's 47 residents along with 25 staff members, according to data from the California Department of Public Health.
Under state guidelines, the number of deaths at a skilled nursing facility is not specified until the number reaches 11. Santa Barbara County Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said the number of deaths at Santa Maria Post Acute is under 11 but still substantial.
"We are still very actively involved, obviously, with the state department and the licensing agency, as well. The outbreak was very severe in that facility, and the vast majority of residents caught the virus," Ansorg said, adding that over half the residents have now recovered.
While an additional death was confirmed in Santa Maria on Friday, it is unclear whether the death is related to Santa Maria Post Acute.
The individual was described as being over the age of 70 with underlying health conditions, and was confirmed to have died in association with an outbreak at a congregate living facility.
While congregate living facilities can include skilled nursing facilities, they also cover residential care facilities for the elderly, H-2A housing sites, jails and shelters, according to public health officials.
The wait for death certificates also can cause severe delays in death announcements from the county, making it unclear when deaths actually occurred.
Along with the county's 119th death, an additional 23 COVID-19 cases also were confirmed by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department on Friday.
The total number of cases in the county is now 9,560, with 112 cases still considered active and contagious, according to county public health data.
In the city of Santa Maria, 39 out of 4,073 total cases remain active. Sixty-six individuals have died.
In the community of Orcutt, four out of 351 total cases remain active. Three individuals have died.
In the city of Lompoc, 12 out of 899 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, eight out of 176 total cases remain active. Seven individuals have died.