Santa Barbara County public health officials disclosed for the first time Friday that 28 people died of Covid during the 35 days between June 22 and July 27.
The 28 deaths were previously unreported, and came as a surprise to county officials when they discovered a "processing error" had led to a major undercount of dead people.
The new mortality data brings to 60 the number of fatalities attributed to the coronavirus in SB County, a nearly 100 percent increase over the 32 deceased who previously had been counted in the total death toll,
Of the additional 28 deaths reported, the vast majority were people who had lived in North County. Seventy-five percent of the victims were over 70 years of age and had underlying conditions. Twenty-two percent were Caucasian and 78 percent were Hispanic. Ten of the 28 deceased were agricultural workers.
As a political matter, the mortifying confession by officials entrusted with protecting the public from the pandemic that they have been oblivious about the number of people who have died has the potential of disturbing public confidence, which Supervisor Gregg Hart sought to reassure by asserting that the county is being as "transparent" as possible about the blunder.
“The county is committed to ensuring that we are providing accurate, transparent, and timely information about the coronavirus in the community,” 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart said at the Friday press conference. “We don’t have all the answers today because we wanted to share this information as soon as possible and we are committed to getting answers to any and all questions.
“We’re being transparent because there is no way to sugarcoat this news.”
As a practical matter, the danger for news consumers is that the death toll shocker could bestir once more every armchair epidemiologist, conspiracy crank, internet troll, wealth management bobo with time on their hands and arrogant smarty-pants who took undergraduate statistics to feel the compulsion to share and spread their pet theories, cherry-picked data, strongly-held opinions, misinformation and disinformation in order to advance their blindingly insightful opinions about What Should and Must Be Done about the pandemic, while justifiably dragging public health bureaucrats and elected officials for their ineptness.
Delaney's Indy story is here.
Josh Molina's Noozhawk version is here.
Travis Schlepp's KEYT report is here