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KCBX News Update: Santa Barbara County offering free rapid COVID tests, and California surpasses five million case mark

Flickr member Ryosuke Yagi

Santa Barbara County offering free rapid COVID-19 tests

Santa Barbara County is offering free rapid COVID-19 antigen tests to the public amid a nationwide shortage of the at-home tests.

Several locations throughout the county are giving out the tests Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour break from noon to 1 p.m.

The tests are available at Franklin Health Care Center in Santa Barbara, Carpinteria Health Care Center in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara County Public Health in Santa Barbara and Lompoc Health Care in Lompoc.

However, the tests will not be available on New Year’s Eve this Friday at the Carpinteria and Franklin locations.

There are also county-run PCR testing sites in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Lompoc and Goleta.

More information on COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County is available at publichealthsbc.org.

California passes five million COVID case count

California just crossed another grim milestone: five million COVID-19 cases. That number comes as hospitalizations increase statewide.

Fueled by holiday travel and the highly contagious Omicron and Delta variants, the state’s COVID-19 rates are surging. In just the last week, the number of Californians hospitalized has swelled by nearly 25 percent.

The state has more than 4,300 patients hospitalized with the virus, the highest total since October 9.

Cases are increasing too. As of this week, the seven-day statewide average is well over 15,000.

These numbers come as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its recommendations for people who test positive but are asymptomatic, from ten days of isolation to five.

This story came to us from CapRadio News.

Benjamin Purper was News Director of KCBX from May of 2021 to September of 2023. He came from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
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