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Santa Barbara County seeing "dramatic" shift in the pandemic, concerns over 'rapid spike'

Santa Barbara County Public Health Department
In Santa Barbara County, 28 people are in the hospital with COVID and 6 of them are in the ICU, a 71 percent increase from two weeks ago

Santa Barbara County health officials are reporting a significant shift in pandemic numbers, seeing positive infection rates they haven’t seen since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

“I’m saddened to report that Santa Barbara county is experiencing a dramatic increase in new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” said Santa Barbara County Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg.

Ansorg expressed frustration during a press conference Tuesday on the uptick in COVID-19 cases, calling it a pandemic of the unvaccinated. 

“I’m particularly saddened and upset because all of this is 100 percent preventable," Ansorg said. "The way to prevent this is to get a very safe and effective vaccine that is easily available.”

Public health officer Dr. Van Do-Reynoso said the county’s daily COVID positive case rate now stands at 8.8 percent per 100,000 residents, with the county reporting eight active outbreaks, including an outbreak at a homeless shelter and a school.

“To put it into context," Do-Reynoso said, "that’s a 400 percent increase in a month, since June 25th.”

Although numbers are trending in the wrong direction, Ansorg said at this time, the county health department isn’t considering a mask mandate or business restrictions. 

“Instead of lamenting about public health recommendations, and perceived restrictions, we need to take responsibility for ourselves, our neighbors and loved ones," Ansorg said.

The health department's main goal is to convince the nearly 150,000 vaccine eligible residents to take the shot.

Ansorg called on elected officials, public figures and religious leaders to step in to help in the effort. 

“These recent deaths are on those leaders who have failed to support our general public health recommendations and vaccines," Ansorg said. "But instead, continue to spread misinformation on the vaccine and on the pandemic in general.”

The public health department said they will focus their efforts on having one on one conversations with those unvaccinated, but said if numbers do continue to surge, they may consider restrictions at a later time.

For more information on how to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines, visit

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.