By edhat staff
Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg clarified the meaning of “underlying health conditions” as the Public Health Department (PHD) reported two new COVID-19 deaths.
On Tuesday, PHD reported one individual resided in the City of Santa Maria and was 50-69 years old. The other individual resided in the North County Unincorporated area and was 70+ years of age. Neither had underlying health conditions and their deaths are not associated with an outbreak at a congregate-care facility.
Dr. Ansorg stated he detests the phrase “underlying health conditions” because many people dismiss a death if they hear this phrase and it hasn’t been helpful. An underlying health condition could be something minor such as someone being “slightly overweight” or having asthma, he said while stating the recent death of a 16-year-old due to COVID-19 was “tragic.”
Santa Barbara County has had its fair share of patients that have succumbed to the virus or have been hospitalized who had little to no previous health issues, said Dr. Ansorg. Due to privacy laws, PHD is continuously discussing how to retain patients’ privacy while also being transparent with the community on the severity of these illnesses.
As the holiday season has yet to come to a close, new COVID-19 cases are continuing to surge at an unprecedented rate. There are currently ten-times as many infectious people in the county compared to November, and this is a direct consequence of gathering at an accelerated fashion, said Dr. Ansorg.
The doctor briefly touched on the recently reported mutated strains of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom and South Africa and said it’s common for mutations and at this point scientists do not believe this strain will evade the vaccine.
On Tuesday, PHD reported 264 new COVID-19 cases and two new deaths, as previously stated. The county has now reached 150 total deaths due to the pandemic.
Santa Barbara County currently has 1,245 active cases with 103 hospitalizations including 22 in the intensive care unit (ICU).
The Southern California Region continues to have a 0% ICU availability while Santa Barbara County is reporting a 40.5% ICU availability.
Cottage Health, one of the main hospitals within Santa Barbara County, reports as of Tuesday the ICU capacity is 38.6%. There are 55 patients in isolations with COVID-19 symptoms, 52 are confirmed to be COVID-19 positive. Of the 55 patients in isolation, 10 are in critical care.
During the week of December 7-13, Cottage Health conducted 4,037 COVID-19 laboratory tests with 376 returning as positive. From December 14-20, 4,462 COVID-19 laboratory tests were collected with 408 being positive.
More data is available at publichealthsbc.org.