Leaders Push Against Enforcement as COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise

By edhat staff

Santa Barbara County officials continue to reject stricter enforcement of mask-wearing and distancing as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

During a press conference on Friday afternoon when asked if the county would implement enforcement of people not following the COVID-19 guidelines in terms of mask-wearing and physical distancing, Supervisor Gregg Hart stated the enforcement of individual people presents many challenges including the potential for confrontations that would be difficult to manage. 

He said the community is better off focusing on education and imploring people to think about the consequences of their actions rather than a punitive approach. When discussing counties who have imposed greater enforcement, Hart stated it has not truly changed behavior and many of those jurisdictions have not issued many citations. 

City governments, however, are able to enforce stricter guidelines that go beyond the Governor’s orders. The City of Santa Barbara will discuss possible enforcement and stricter guidelines this coming Tuesday.

The Virus is Reignited

It has been 128 days since Governor Newsom issued the stay-at-home order with 90% of California’s population being on the state’s monitoring list due to an increase of COVID-19 cases.

“We are at a crossroads with the COVID pandemic,” said Hart. He expressed how the county successfully flattened the infection curve and avoided overloading hospitals but the virus was not contained and it has reignited, threatening the progress that was initially made.

While the local hospital capacity is “prudently managed,” the new cases continue to increase and the trend is not good, he said.

As of Friday, the county has averaged 121 new cases each day over the past week. The state requires an average of 8 new cases per day to be lifted from the state’s monitoring list. Since Memorial Day there has been a steady increase from 13 cases per day to 25 per day two weeks later. One month later the number rose to 60, and six weeks after Memorial Day it grew to 96 cases per day until today, two months after Memorial Day, we are at 121 cases per day.

Hart stated we cannot go indefinitely like this and we know what to do, emphasizing that masks are the safe and easy choice to reduce the case count so we can return to living our normal lives. 

Friday’s Numbers

Santa Barbara County Public Health Deputy Director Paige Batson reported 133 new cases bringing the grand total to 5,576

Of the total, 369 of the cases are active, meaning they are still considered to be infectious. There are currently 85 hospitalizations including 26 people in the intensive care unit (ICU).

The Public Health Department has between 70 and 85 contact tracers who average 250 calls on cases per day. The average wait time from a positive result of being contacted by a tracer is 2.1 days. All positive cases are contacted by a tracer, as well as anyone who had close contact with the positive case. Approximately 94% of those who tested positive are able to investigated, while 6% are unable to be reached. 

From the cases investigated so far, 29% spread the virus from person to person, 18% is spread in the Lompoc prison, 21% traveled outside the county, and 18% is community-acquired. The most common form of person to person spread is during family or group gatherings. 

Batson stated there is a general sense of hesitancy from those who are being interviewed when asked specific questions about restricted behavior such as attending parties or gatherings. However, she said the contact tracers are skilled interviewers and feel most people are forthcoming. 

Hospital Specific Numbers

Dr. J. Trees Ritter, Chief Medical Officer and Infectious Disease Specialist at Marian Medical Hospital, stated they have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 due to the high number of cases in the Santa Maria area. 

In the past 30 days, the hospital has averaged 20 to 22 COVID-19 patients in the ICU, typically people with respiratory issues. The have had up to 16 or 17 ventilators being used at any given time, he said.

On Friday Cottage Health reported caring for a total of 270 patients across all their facilities. Of those, 213 are acute care patients including 16 patients who are on ventilators, 29 are confirmed COVID-19 positive in isolation, and 8 patients in critical care.

More information can be found at https://publichealthsbc.org/status-reports/

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. I am so disappointed in Gregg Hart. He has morphed into the chameleon that he was suspected to be. No leadership and no confrontation. Go along to get along. Really disappointing to say we should not take steps that are proven effective because some people do not honor them.

  2. Education is great, but after a point punitive measures need to be taken to drive the point home. I just got back from Albertsons and Sprouts in Goleta, and in both instances in which I was exiting through the one-way exit, people were walking in and ignoring the signage saying to enter through the other door. These stores, and others like them, have been using directional flow for months, so these individuals can’t claim ignorance at this point. It’s just a willful disregard at this point, and I’m sure it permeates other aspects of their lives as well (texting while driving, etc.).

  3. If the DNC and some of its deep pocket supporters would come out and urge some level of enforcement, Hart would probably respond at least somewhat positively. Too bad that this is his year to be chair of the BOS and therefore the spokesperson for public health.

  4. It’s never good for non-public health experts to be spokespeople on a major public health crisis- esp elected officials whether Trump or Hart. SB County tried and failed at the “education” approach- thats how we ended up going backwards. Public Health Officer orders are orders because they come with enforcwment power- if the County- or I guess Gregg Hart- decides those orders are meaningless- than this crisis will only worsen. Shame.

  5. Public Health Department Deputy Director Paige Batson sure looks like a public servant that could use a well deserved time off from serving as our Health Director to spend some time on her own health to ensure many more years of Directing the health of our county.

  6. Look at the scared politicians afraid to do their jobs. Afraid to confront people who are keeping SB County in the lockdown category. Those cowards may as well just enact a non-enforcement policy on restaurants, barbers, gyms, etc. if that is their approach. Why decimate the small business community if you’re not taking your job of elevating SB to rollback status seriously? Confused, unskilled, unfit, incompetent small-beans politicians. Little leaguers.

  7. Ever think people are ignoring these “orders” because they are total jokes?
    Most people have gotten the real message – elderly persons with co-morbidities face higher risks and need to take care, standard care …… like every flu season. Back to basics. Wash your hands, cover sneezes and coughs and stay home when you are sick. When they moved from “covid” total to PIC totals to keep the hysteria headlines going, you knew the game they were playing was over. (PIC = Pneumonia, influenza, covid now all lumped together). Only thing we can conclude is everyone was guilty and no one was guilty of misinformation leading to mismanagement. Some hungered desperately for “experts” and some hungered for consistent facts and common sense. Everyone was disappointed. And Fauci proved too many times he is the gang who can’t even pitch straight. A very thorough post mortem needs to be conducted on the entire CDC mission and its current administrative structure. Center for Disease Control in its present form operated as almost the intentional Center for Disease Confusion – not a good taxpayer investment.

  8. Go along to get along …with whom? There is the real story when it comes to chameleon Gregg Hart. When he stiffed the city voters running for his second term city council seat, knowing he would leave it very shortly after his city council election in order to run for county supervisor, causing the city to fund a special election on his sole behalf, it is not like voters did not have a clue who they were dealing with. One more political animal sticks it to the taxpayers.

  9. Justavoice, you have been brainwashed. CNN is providing all facts and no fear mongering. It’s sad that you’re not willing to listen to actual news sources. No one on CNN is hysterical or causing viewers to become hysterical. I’m aware that Trump has labeled CNN as fake news and directed his cult to hate CNN but Trump lies constantly.

  10. In my experience people obey money. If you made non-mask-wearing a $20 fine, equipped minions with a “Square” card reader and ticketed people right there on the street and in stores, you’d dramatically increase compliance. As Mark Twain said: ‘There is nothing to be learned from the second kick of a mule.”

  11. First fine should be 30.00 next should be 100.00 Post signs everywhere violations will be enforced with the mask requirement. You can exercise your freedom non mask people on your own personal property, stop screwing it up for everyone else!

  12. This virus is not that deadly- Look at the stats. So that would be one lie about this flu to get rid of. Over age 80 with 1-3 co-morbidities -take care. But with that health profile ,life is at risk every day anyway.

  13. Do you mask police really think people are getting sick not wearing a mask outside on walks? I’m confused as to where you want stricter enforcement. I haven’t seen any store or restaurant or building that doesn’t make you wear one. Apparently “dehydrated” Dr. Fauci thinks it perfectly fine not to wear a mask or social distance. You people are being PLAYED.

  14. nice straw-man fallacy. nobody said anything about outside on walks. it’s more like these big maskless family gatherings and parties people who dont think covid19 is real tend to partake in. people who insist on going into the liquor store with no mask despite the multiple signs on the door. you, probably.

  15. Ok great you answered my question, you want enforcement at private gatherings. Not sure who would enforce that or how. Based on comments it’s not just private gatherings people seem concerned about though, sounds like some think mask should be worn every time we leave our homes and that’s absurd. And no I’m not an asshole if the signs say mask required to enter I wear one.

  16. I didn’t know that we created and enforced laws based not he probability that people would or wouldn’t ignore them.
    We should also stop enforcing drunk driving laws, and jaywalking laws, and littering laws, and noise laws if we are just going to ignore the pandemic.

  17. So true! One of the board of supervisors said that our Santa Barbara politicians have given up all power to the public health Department and they have seen no desire to get the power back this way when it all goes wrong they can CYA (Cover your ***). They literally said that. They blame other ppl as to why they won’t allow businesses to open and say wow we’re really sorry your going through that but there is nothing we can do for you.

  18. The lack of effort to enforce makes it seem like the supervisors doubt their own edict. I get that we don’t want a police state, but at some point we need to put force behind the rules, or the rules will be seen as optional.

  19. Wearing a mask is no great sacrifice if you can save lives for a very minor inconvenience. It is not an issue of personal rights, but rather one for the greater good. Fastening a seat belt is enforceable and wearing a mask should be no different. This is a pandemic. Let’s not get caught up in the political ugliness that obscures the reality. Gregg Hart and any other Santa Barbara official should pay attention to the science and do what is right for everyone; not the biased few.

  20. Hart is only one Board member- he cannot set policy on his own- the Health officer issued an enforceable order- the Governor has issued orders- Hart cannot as an individual declare non-enforcement. Sad that during a press conference where our horrible numbers are getting worse, he sends a message of “oh well”. Tossing out meaningless feel good words like “education” when we are in the midst of a shameful crisis in a County that has the resources to do better, is appalling.

  21. Trust, but verify. Where did the Governor get his arbitrary numbers from in the first place that now wield such draconian powers over all our lives? Why 100 cases; why not 37 cases or 400 cases. Why the slavish abdication to unqualified authority figures who act with purely partisan interests? Time to demand answers before further blind compliance with these “orders” and that comes from from our local elected “representatives”. They were not elected to represent only the governor; but us.

  22. Too bad there is still no scientific justification for “universal” mask usage. Just feel-good symbolism that strangely appeals to some. So no, there can be no justification to make someone’s desire for meaningless symbolism become a universal mandate. Pay attention to emerging guidelines in specific situations, but stop equating not wearing mask 24/7 with inflicting a death sentence on any and all passing strangers.

  23. So they used taxpayer money to pass and ENFORCE the no-smoking ban but they can’t enforce a mask order? Why not deploy those little people they had going around “warning” people who were smoking to “raise awareness”? What is going on here? There weren’t that many smokers downtown to make it such an issue yet this is a huge issue and they act like they are impotent to do anything b/c of imagined “confrontations”? Well, where was the worry then?

  24. Public health officials are like OSHA officials – they deal in abstract theory; not practical applications and residual consequences. They are part of a solution; not the solution. Real solutions come from elected officials weighing and balancing their recommendations against real world consequences.

  25. Campaign promises: I will listen to the people. I will represent you. Election reality: I will become a mouthpiece for the establishment and blindly carry out their edicts. Re-election voter sentiment: Okay.

  26. And yet again people will vote in favor of a tax increase. They will sell it in a way that convinces people it’ s necessary to keep the town alive, and prosperous and to protect property values. And how it’s “not their fault” b/c this was a virus so we all need to ban together to help. Except if they were really worried about that they’d be acting differently. They will vote it in – like I said, wait for it.

  27. Damn right I’ll vote for higher taxes! To my own detriment too. It all depends on who and what is being taxed. The rich definitely don’t pay their fair share! I do hope we all band together for the sake of us; for community. (For instance, repealing Prop. 13? I’d have to vote for it. It’ll hurt me, but it is in line with my political beliefs. Here’s what’s really happening: https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/jan/24/facebook-posts/no-californians-arent-being-asked-repeal-prop-13s-/)

  28. LOOSE – it’s not only overweight people who are at risk. Read the news once in a while. In Florida even healthy children are at risk. —-https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2020/07/27/florida-child-hospitalizations-jump-23-as-schools-prepare-to-reopen/ —— https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/27/health/florida-covid-children-hospitalizations/index.htmlhttps://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/florida-covid-19-cases-in-children-hospitalizations-among-kids-jump-23percent/ar-BB17f3xr

  29. CDC Director Robert Redfield admitted today: ……”“We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from Covid. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose, that are above excess, than we had as background, than we are seeing deaths from Covid.”…

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