Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears title=
The former Sears building in the La Cumbre Shopping Center (file photo)
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By edhat staff

Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors discussed the ongoing increase in North County COVID-19 cases and the decision to use the vacant Sears building as a backup hospital during their Tuesday meeting.

As of Tuesday evening, the county has 371 active cases with 76 hospitalizations including 22 in the intensive care unit (ICU). Within the county, there are 34% of all medical/surgical hospital beds, 38% of all ICU beds, and 80% of all ventilators available.

The Public Health Department (PHD) has planned for surge capacity within all local hospitals and has sought out additional options for field hospitals should a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations exceed the hospital system's capacity.

The former Sears department store, located at 3845 State Street, was selected as the best field hospital option for Santa Barbara's south county. Sears closed in early 2019 and the building, operated by Rippan Property, has been vacant.

Assistant County Executive Officer Barney Melekian confirmed additional sites were vetted, including UC Santa Barbara. He stated there were a number of reasons why the college campus didn't work and Sears has the best capacity to support 250 hospital beds with the ability to hold more if needed.

However, it could cost more than $1 million to convert the Sears building into a suitable hospital alternative as well as a $39,600/month lease for up to 18 months.

Melekian stated the alternative site will be set up in three transitionary phases: at end of July or end of August the county will pay to hold the facility in the event it's needed, then they will begin the 3 to 4-week process of preparing the building to receive patients, and the final phase will be the receipt of patients if the hospital system becomes overwhelmed.

For North County, San Luis Obispo has agreed to take on overflow patients to their facility at CalPoly if the need arises.

"This is a regional solution and it is an insurance policy and it is calibrated to fill the needs of both North County and South County," said Supervisor Gregg Hart.

Das Williams in the Protect.Respect. campaign to wear face coverings (courtesy photo)

During public comment, numerous community members expressed their frustration that not enough education has been done in the Santa Maria area, which holds more than half of the entire county's COVID-19 cases. Specifically, there was concern that agricultural workers were not being protected by their employers.

Commenters urged county officials to do more to protect these workers by revising agricultural employee dwelling policies, issue safety protocol plans, and enforce the rules. 

PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso confirmed 14% of the total 4,323 COVID-19 cases are agricultural workers, and it increases to 20% within the City of Santa Maria.

The supervisors agreed to extend the pandemic eviction moratorium through September 30, as it was planned to expire by the end of July. Additionally, County Supervisor Das Williams proposed a rental assistance program for those who have lost wages due to COVID-19. 

"There will be a time that evictions begin again and we are facing the risk of a mass eviction and migration that hasn't been seen since the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake if we don't get folks some help. I am pleased that my motion passed unanimously and our staff is working on developing a program," said Williams in a statement.

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ginger1 Jul 14, 2020 09:50 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

There are 28 people hospitalized in South County. Cottage Hospitals are begging for elective surgery patients to help fill all the empty rooms. Spending millions of dollars to convert Sears into a temporary hospital for The Coming Surge has got to be the most idiotic proposal I've heard yet.

Oh---wait. Didn't Newsom scream that the state had to come up with 55,000 critical care beds for The First Wave and we ended up utilizing 3,200? This stupidity has got to stop.

GeneralTree Jul 15, 2020 12:18 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

That's really good the hospitalization is down (for now). Our neighbors to the south aren't so lucky. If we can continue to social distance and wear masks - among other recommendations and get the numbers under control we have a chance. If we can't get it under control - then that facility will be needed. Think in terms of larger numbers. Los Angeles county reported 4,244 new cases. There were also 2,103 people hospitalized, with 27% being treated in intensive care units and 19% on ventilators.

haskelslocal Jul 15, 2020 08:26 AM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

Currently in SB there is a 7.45% probability of testing positive for Covid from the semi-random sample of 100 people. There is a 1.5% probability of being admitted to the hospital. There is a 0.05% (1 out of 200 people) of being admitted to ICU. There is less than .0005% chance (1 of 2000 people) of dying.
The Positive Result/Total Patient Tested ratio in SB County was at 8.6% on June 1. Trailed downward to 7.0% by June 30. Up slightly to 7.3% on July 7 and now slightly higher to 7.45% on July 14. SB County has not experienced capacity overflow issues during this time. Protocol and care have improved. Hospital cases rates have hovered in a range of 15%-22% of total positive tested cases. (Admittance to hospital is flexible, erring mostly on the side of caution.) Case rates are not truly random as those tested mostly are doing so because of symptoms or contact related reasons. The next unknown to be conquered should be disposition of "recovery".

Bmklou Jul 15, 2020 11:08 AM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

Right on!!! Who bought off whom on this atrocity? Overflow/surge my butt!!! And to think the existing tenants will go for this is crazy-- "oh honey , lets go grab a bite to eat next door to the COVID patients overflow facility?" Why not just bring the prisoners from Lompoc down here so they dont jnfect the other prisoners?!? Fricken insanity!!!

sandy1 Jul 15, 2020 12:27 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

The county supervisors approved spending up to $1.2 million this Tuesday to lease the empty Sears department store — 72,000 square feet — located at La Cumbre Plaza to create space for 200 additional medical beds for ( non-COVID cases ), freeing up space at Cottage Hospital for a possible influx of COVID patients.

ginger1 Jul 15, 2020 12:35 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

That's an excellent way to use munged and generally useless data to make what is a valid point! Nice work. Seriously. Not to be sarcastic, because it is all one can do with data that is invalid because testing protocols keep changing. Far worse than "semi-random."

You people in fear/panic mode ask yourself one question: do you actually know of anyone in our community who is or was sick with COVID-19 or know of someone who knows someone test positive for coronavirus. ? Let's hear it. Anyone? The silence is deafening,

GeneralTree Jul 15, 2020 12:43 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

Ginger1 - you can make your case without taking stabs at Covid patients. Yes, I know a younger person in SB hospitalized for 14 days. I know someone in quarantine in SB right now. We know someone out of county that has died from the virus. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see if the cases go up, hospitalizations and deaths will as well. Look at Florida, Los Angeles etc. OC (CA) is admitting ICU patients faster than they can be released. Our county has been relatively lucky - I believe due to that we are somewhat remote from population centers and we closed down early. I don't know anyone in fear or panic mode. Seems to me most in my ecosystem are approaching the subject logically.

ginger1 Jul 15, 2020 12:55 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

No, look at this: "The number of positive cases increased 43 percent in the past 14 days, and doubled in the last 28 days, Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said."

Of course the number of positives are going to increase, even exponentially, when you only test people you know are infected. Duh.

If you want to cite stupidity, why did we allow 10,000 people from LA to crowd our beaches last weekend? To support the hospitality businesses or to provide a rationale for spending millions of dollars to turn Sears into a hospital? Hey, in South Florida, now the focus of the world's pandemic, it's perfectly okay for anyone to get into their car and drive to Orlando and visit Disney World.

Yup. America is number one! While over in the rest of the world, kids are heading back to school and their parents back to work and people are not getting sick in droves.

PitMix Jul 15, 2020 01:47 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

What is the source of your numbers? Ventura data consistently shows 1/3 of people hospitalized end up in ICUs, and 1/2 of those die. If the 1.5% probability is correct, we are talking about 6000 people hospitalized, 2000 people in ICUs, and 1000 people dying out of the 450,000 total population in our county. Given the fact that many of the people hospitalized will end up with major health problems, are those acceptable numbers to you?

420722 Jul 15, 2020 03:11 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

Ginger: NOT one person. I have never been in freak out mode over this and it’s been quite sad to watch people crumble. Luckily all the people I work with haven’t lost their minds either. I also find it funny how covid somehow led to a total re-write of history and cities now threatening not to reopen unless their demands are met. Like that wasn’t planned or anything. Hmm...

haskelslocal Jul 15, 2020 09:19 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

The numbers are approximates derived from compiled data directly off the SB Public Health's daily updates. It is "Positive Tests/Total Tested" =4323/58189 or 7.45%. Of which, hospital admitted has held consistent at about 20% of all positive patients. (Today for an example is 76 admitted/371 active =20%) So if 100 get tested, 7.5 people are positive(7.5%). 20% of those positives, or 1.5 people, are admitting to the hospital. That's 1.5%. Over the course of this disease progression, admittance has held fairly consistent. However, of course there are hot spots within this sample (Santa Maria) and testing issues result and are unaccounted for such as false positives. So this is ballpark statistics. It is also pretty consistent when comparing to other counties across the US using data from the CDC county tracker which provides basic case comparisons for all counties across the US. (Data is still young on this site and missing a ton of variables.) But it's fascinating how close overall percentages are across the board. As a side note, I know 4 people who have been told they contracted Covid.

a-1594874436 Jul 15, 2020 09:40 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

Who else has done really well forcing everyone into shopping online ..... and alsohas a public bully pulpit right in the heart of Washington DC to push any agenda he chooses? Hmmmmmm. Like they say, follow the money. Yes, "covid" has been a splendid opportunity...... for some. Keep us scared, keep us at home ...and keep us shopping on line.
Postman said the P.O. would be out of business right now if Amazon was not still using their services to deliver Amazon packages in Santa Barbara. Unlike Ventura, where Amazon does all their deliveries with their own company trucks.

a-1594842946 Jul 15, 2020 12:55 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

Recall the SB city council members and the county board of supervisors. Recall petitions require only a certain percentage of voters in the last election. Since there is such a lousy voter turn out in our elections, collecting enough signatures to throw all the bums out will be easy. County Elections Office has the necessary forms and information. We are no longer safe letting this current pack continue to run things.

Lucky 777 Jul 15, 2020 02:29 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

A friend of mine in Laguna Beach just told me both of her elderly parents are sick with Covid but the hospital there has refused to admit them unless they need to be put on a ventilator. So they are both still at home, being cared for by a son who is no way qualified, and according to their description are "Ten times sicker than regular flu."

SBLetsGetAlong Jul 16, 2020 09:17 PM
Supervisors Discuss Rise in COVID-19 Cases and an Overflow Hospital at Sears

I appreciate all the logical people posting who actually look at the stats I appreciate your calling this ludicrous.
99.91% of SB is Covid free today per SBPHD.
Over 99% of SB is suffering, the masses are suffering for the extreme minority.
That’s not right.
Thank you for those of you standing up and voicing logical debates with those that only read the headline “Active Cases are up”. Seriously people, do you know how to read? Can you read the colored SBPHD chart! Do you know there are 445,000 people in SB?
And only 444 have Covid, and that number is suspicious because they are not confirmed cases with a positive Covid test. Seriously, SB has given over 51,000 tests. Yet they don’t test every “Active Case” reported and publicized.
Talk anoint ifiocracy and using scare tactics to control a population. I call BS
SB, you’re smarter than this ask questions. 99.91% of us do not have Covid.

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