COVID-19 Update - A Message from Cottage Health to Our Community
Dear Community Member,
I am writing to provide information regarding encouraging trends we are experiencing at Cottage Health regarding COVID-19. It appears that the post-holiday surge in COVID-19 hospital admissions is now in steady and slow decline. On January 15, there were 90 inpatients at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with COVID-19. Today, there are 71, with 18 of those in the ICU. While this is still a high number of patients with COVID, we are encouraged by the downward trend. In addition, only five weeks ago the 7-day average COVID test positivity rate was 19.3%. Today, the 7-day average is 9.3%. As long as we all continue to observe the important infection prevention guidelines of avoiding gatherings, wearing masks, and washing our hands, we expect this trend to continue.
Cottage is one of a number of health providers now offering vaccines in our county. Our drive-up vaccine clinic at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital has administered more than 7,000 first vaccine doses to community members, and on February 11 and 12, we will provide second doses for those who received their first doses of Pfizer and Moderna three and four weeks prior, respectively. For the many volunteers and Cottage staff members who are assisting in the vaccination of our community, I cannot thank you enough. You are making an incredible difference.
This effort requires constant adjustments as vaccine supply changes weekly. We have received many phone calls from those who have received first doses, inquiring when and how the second dose is to be scheduled. Our challenge is this – in the current California vaccine distribution system, we receive notice of how much vaccine we will receive only five days prior to its delivery. For example, last night we received confirmation that we will receive, on Monday, February 8, the second dose shipment due to be administered Thursday and Friday, February 11 and 12. Once we knew the vaccine was on the way, we sent out notice this morning informing all who are eligible to schedule their second dose. We understand the desire to have a second dose appointment confirmed further in advance. However, we do not want to schedule appointments until we are confident we’ll have adequate vaccine to honor those appointments.
We expect this to improve in the near future as federal and state authorities are now advising that we can expect a three-week commitment of the quantity and dates of vaccine delivery in coming weeks. As you might have heard, the State of California is implementing a new registration, scheduling and vaccine distribution system. We will provide updates as further information becomes available.
Many have asked about eligibility for vaccines and when those age 65-74, teachers, and other categories will be eligible. The California Department of Public Health authorizes, based on available supply, the vaccination of health care workers, individuals age 65 and over, people working in education and childcare, emergency services, food and agriculture, and other prioritized areas. In Santa Barbara County, based on current vaccine availability from the State, the Public Health Department and the hospitals and clinics that are administering vaccines are currently vaccinating health care workers, individuals age 75 and over, and residents of long-term care facilities. We are hopeful that we can expand vaccination to other categories in the near future, but that will depend on vaccine supply. We are also working with our community partners to assure that all members of our community, including those most vulnerable, have access to vaccines.
Please continue to stay safe, and protect yourself and others in our community. For more information and updates, visit cottagehealth.org/covid19.
President & CEO