County Creates Plan to Reopen Economy, Public Health Releases Data on COVID-19 Patients
By edhat staff
Santa Barbara County lays out guidelines for a detailed plan to reopen the economy while the Public Health Department (PHD) releases demographic data of the positive COVID-19 cases.
During Tuesday morning's Board of Supervisor's meeting, PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso shared a series of graphs depicting the latest numbers of the cases throughout the county. The overall data shows a disproportionate number of cases in Hispanic communities.
Based on Monday's total of 416 cases, the Lompoc area represents 40% of cases, however, the majority of those numbers are related to the outbreak at the federal prison. Santa Maria accounts for 24% of cases while Santa Barbara follows at 11%. The outbreak at the Lompoc Prison is about 30% of all confirmed cases in the county with 23% of those representing employees and 77% inmates. The cases are distributed throughout all age groups. The two largest groups are ages 30-49 with 35% and ages 50-69 with 36%.
Of the 416 cases, PHD was able to interview 307 people to formulate data trends. Of the 307 interviewees, 221 are residents and 86 are inmates at the Lompoc prison. For the purpose of highlighting relevant information, only the larger percentages will be reported below.
Significant numbers were presented in terms of race and ethnicity. For the non-prison population, 221 residents, 61% identified their race or ethnicity as Hispanic, and 31% as white. Of the prison population, 48% identified as Hispanic and 43% white. Overall, 54% identified as Hispanic and 24% identified as white. In terms of communication, 77% reported English as their primary language with 19% reporting Spanish.
The data shows the Latino/Hispanic community represents a disproportionately higher number of cases compared to their representation in Santa Barbara County's population. As testing expands and data collection progresses, the distribution by race and ethnicity for cases may change, said Dr. Do-Reynoso. PHD plans to continue outreach to community members whose primary language is Spanish.
The majority of interviewees, 90%, stated they have some form of health insurance with 84% of the total stating they have access to a healthcare provider. PHD will continue conducting outreach and enrollment efforts to those who are uninsured.
For household size, 53% or respondents lived in as household of three to five individuals with 31% living by themselves or with one other person. The median annual income is $50,000 - 75,000 for 19% of respondents, approximately 24% earned below that amount and 26% earned above that amount. In terms of education level, 36% reported some college or technical training from one to three years.
Based on the data analysis, PHD will continue messages about physical distancing and hand washing, as well as partner with businesses and worksite to ensure optimal physical distancing. The majority of respondents, 93%, understood the importance of regular handwashing and were able to practice it before they were sick.
Additionally, 48% understood the importance of physical distancing and were able to practice it. However, Dr. Do-Reynoso stated it's concerning the rest of the nearly 50% of respondents either did not understand the importance of physical distancing, or they understood the importance but were unable to practice it. 38% of respondents stated its not possible to socially distance at home as well as 36% reporting it's not possible at work.
Looking at the overall percentages of confirmed cases thus far, Santa Barbara County has a lower number than predicted in the models. This is due to Governor Newsom's executive order and efforts by the community to socially distance, said Dr. Do-Reynoso.
However, the number of active cases is still increasing adding a potential for the spread of the virus. There needs to be a consistent decrease in overall cases and hospitalizations over a 14 day period to enact policy changes, said Dr. Do-Reynoso.
Following the Governor's Roadmap of six indicators needed to reopen the economy, the PHD is working to address each indicator. The first point is they are actively negotiating an increase in testing capacity and anticipate an update later this week. They are also working on contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine services to support positive cases.
The second point is working on identifying vulnerable groups and offering testing to make sure support services are in place. The third item is to be in constant communication with healthcare partners to address any potential surges. For the fourth point, develop therapeutics to meet demand, PHD will look to the Governor's office for support.
PHD is currently in the planning stages with all stakeholders to outline physical distancing measures in businesses, schools, and child care facilities as the fifth point. And for the sixth point, determining when to reinstitute certain measures such as stay at home orders, PHD will look to the Governor and state authorities for guidance while discussing with neighboring counties.
The Economic Reopening Plan Development is estimating four to six weeks to be finalized with a presentation ready for the Board of Supervisors. Their plan outlines the following:
- Organize a project team to develop a strategic plan for a phased reopening
- Engage REACH (a tri-county planning group) to assist with the plan and facilitate stakeholder collaboration efforts
- Identify participants and form Countywide Stakeholder Team related to government, schools and business industries
- Draft a document and engage Stakeholder Team for comments
- Finalize Road Map to Phased Reopening for Public Health Director
- Present to the Board of Supervisors
Dr. Do-Reynoso expressed the PHD wants to be consistent with its policies in terms of what is and isn't allowable. When compared to San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties, she said Santa Barbara's rates and numbers are different and they're in conversation with both counties to determine what their rationale was to allow certain businesses to operate.
Santa Barbara County CEO Mona Miyasato also stated that reopening the economy will be based on what's allowed due to the Governor's order. She cautioned comparing Santa Barbara county to other counties as some issued stay at home orders before the Governor while Santa Barbara issued the order following the Governor's announcement. She also said some counties had more restrictive orders than what the Governor issued and they are beginning to relax those, where Santa Barbara did not impose stricter guidelines outside of the Governor's order.