The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has received 57,000 COVID-19 rapid testing kits from the federal government for community distribution, with around 140,000 more expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
Kits containing two tests each will be distributed by 35 local community partners including community organizations, cities, agricultural and public housing providers, and homeless service providers to ensure equitable access, according to county public health spokeswoman Jackie Ruiz.
Rapid tests, also known as antigen or at-home tests, have been in short supply over the past month as COVID-19 cases surge throughout the county and state.
“Through the receipt of these initial test kit shipments, we are on the road to community members having regular access to free, at-home test kits,” said County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso. “It is only through the many partners that have agreed to assist in test kit distribution that we are able to ensure equity of access for all of our Santa Barbara County communities.”
A distribution in Santa Maria is scheduled to take place on Saturday at the Santa Maria Health Care Center, located at 2115 Centerpointe Parkway, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or until supplies last.
Community nonprofit Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) could also be seen handing out test kits to residents at their Lincoln Street office in Santa Maria on Friday.
More distribution events will be announced in the coming days as partners receive kits from the county, and will be listed online at publichealthsbc.org/testing. Residents without internet access can also find this information by contacting the 211 call center.
Every household in the country is also eligible to receive four free rapid tests through the U.S. Postal Service. The tests can be ordered online at www.covidtests.gov.
COVID cases on the Central Coast
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 1,421 new COVID-19 cases and one death of an Orcutt resident over the age of 70 from the illness on Friday.
COVID-19 deaths confirmed in the county now total 585, according to county public health data. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 remain high, with 149 residents hospitalized, including 15 in the intensive care unit.
In neighboring San Luis Obispo County, officials on Friday reported 2,710 new cases since Tuesday as well as four deaths of residents ranging in age from their 50s to 70s.
The county has now confirmed 384 deaths, with several more expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks, according to county public health spokeswoman Michelle Shoresman.
COVID-19 cases in the county are at an all-time high, with a 14-day case average of 517.
“A total of 9,060 cases have been reported to date in January, exceeding the previous high of 7,437 reported in all of January 2021. Public Health is currently responding to 63 active outbreaks in congregate care, skilled nursing and corrections facilities,” Shoresman said.