Board of Supervisors Discuss Coronavirus Timeline and Preparation

Board of Supervisors Discuss Coronavirus Timeline and Preparation title=
Board of Supervisors Discuss Coronavirus Timeline and Preparation
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By edhat staff

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors discuss planning and preparation Tuesday morning for the inevitable rise of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in local communities.

The Public Health Department (PHD) is planning for the COVID-19 pandemic to reach its peak range in local areas between April 26 and July 28, said Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso.

PHD is using three models from Penn Medicine, Meher Lab, and the University of Washington to estimate the peak range, which refers to the date when Santa Barbara County is expected to crest at the top of the curve. The estimation provides critical information on how to plan for best and worst-case scenarios. The key variables used are cases, hospitalization rates, ICU rates, and ventilation rates.

While displaying slides of current COVID-19 trajectories, Dr. Do-Reynoso explained the curve between California and the entire United States is about the same. When comparing Santa Barbara County she points out we are about one week behind on a lower scale with the small divets in the curve most likely being artificial and attributed to the lag in lab reporting and small sample size.

While adjusting the number of social distancing in our community, Dr. Do-Reynosos stated it has the largest impact on the number of confirmed cases and hospitalization rates.

Ventilators and Alternative Care Sites

Santa Barbara County currently has 85 ventilators, which has increased by 39 since March 9th. Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed they have submitted orders to the state to acquire 100 more ventilators and 500 more disposable ventilators, but it's up to the state to determine how many are sent.  Hospitals are additionally pursuing purchases from non-state stock.

PHD confirmed they are planning a potential surge at local hospitals and aggressively pursuing 500 to 1000 alternate care beds to allow hospitals to care for critically ill patients. Officials plan on having this available in two weeks. 

Task Force for Spanish Speaking Community

Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed PHD has initiated an Immigrant Health Rapid Response Collaborative with partners at UC Santa Barbara to address the immediate needs of bilingual and bi-cultural education for the community.

The collaborative has identified five priority areas to address: health education, translation, access to healthcare, communication, and community outreach. They are working with leaders within the Hispanic community to help educate the community on the behaviors that need to change.

Free Healthcare for COVID-19 Symptoms

PHD is offering free healthcare for anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms but is unable to pay. There have been concerns that some community members may be ill but are worried about the cost of COVID-19 testing or healthcare.

The usual $45/copay is being waived for anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms at all Public Health Care Centers, insurance is not needed. Click here for locations.

Sheriff to Enforce Shelter in Place as Needed

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown provided an update to the Board of Supervisors on compliance with the Public Health order. Deputies are deploying efforts to gain voluntary compliance through education, but are prepared to take the necessary steps towards enforcement if needed.

"Levels of cooperation are exceedingly high. [The] vast majority of people are adhering to orders," said Brown. Of the small number of violations reported, some of the calls were misunderstandings on the public health guidelines, he said.

Overall, the front lines of law enforcement will continue to serve the community and will bring justice to any criminal offenders seeking to take advantage of the pandemic, said Brown. Additionally, dispatchers are screening 9-1-1 calls to determine if personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed for responding deputies.

County Jail Numbers Drastically Decrease 

As of Monday, there were 685 inmates at the Santa Barbara County Jail. This was the lowest number we have seen at the Santa Barbara Jail in more than 50 years, said Brown. Compared to March 2019, the numbers are down by 20%. 

Brown confirmed there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 for inmates. Anyone working or entering the jail has their temperature checked and all inmate visitations have been suspended. However, additional free phone minutes and postcards are provided for inmates to correspond with loved ones.

As previously reported, five Sheriff's employees and one contract worker tested positive for COVID-19. None of these cases required hospitalizations and one person has fully recovered and returned to work. There are several more employees who are quarantined due to possible exposure.

If anyone has witnessed violations of the social distancing order they are encouraged to call the Emergency Operation Call Center at 833-688-5551.

The full Board of Supervisors meeting can be seen here.

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