Local Officials Tackle Price Gouging and State of COVID-19
DA Joyce Dudley, Supervisor Gregg Hart, Dr. Henning Ansorg, Jan Koegler
By edhat staff
Local officials discussed price gouging, hospital plans, and current positive cases for novel-coronavirus (COVID-19) on Monday afternoon.
Santa Barbara County Supervisor Gregg Hart kicked off the meeting yet again emphasizing the need for residents to stay home, practice social distancing, regularly hand wash, and disinfect surfaces to prevent spreading COVID-19.
"Unfortunately, not everyone is taking this seriously," said Hart as he expressed the need for personal responsibility. "You don't need a doctor to tell you to stay home," he said for people experiencing mild symptoms. Those with increasing symptoms are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider.
Hart confirmed homeless shelters have reduced their capacity due to social distancing and a new shelter has opened at Santa Maria High School as alternative sites are being sought to accommodate overflow on the South County.
Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg confirmed the 18 positive cases stating this is occurring in nearly every region of the county.
The Public Health Department (PHD) is reporting 493 tests that have been administered with 229 negative results, 245 pending, and 1 inconclusive. Dr. Ansorg stated the pending test result numbers do not reflect tests that were sent to outside labs and is likely much higher.
Due to the virus being new and unpredictable, he was unable to estimate the percentage of people who may already be infected within the community. However, it is a multitude of the current positive results for sure, said Dr. Ansorg.
"There is evidence of community spread and it will not slow down unless everyone takes ownership of their role," said Dr. Ansorg.
On Friday's press briefing, Dr. Ansorg confirmed the 9 confirmed positive cases did not require hospitalization. Today, as the number reached 18 over the weekend, he declined to answer due to patient privacy but stated several cases have recovered.
Many residents online have been questioning why the exact cities of those who tested positive are not released by PHD. Ansorg stated they are not sharing cities at this time as it is not PHD's practice to do so. He then went on to state that everyone should assume they are at risk and take action to stop the spread as the virus is in every community.
Elderly people and those with underlying health concerns are encouraged to stay home and use grocery delivery services as well as restaurant delivery opposed to take out.
Public Health Emergency Preparedness Manager Jan Koegler addressed the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the local hospitals. She addressed reports of healthcare workers resuing masks and is asking all health providers to conserve PPE.
Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital is accepting drop off donations of unopened and in-date respirators, gowns, gloves, and more. Learn more about the donations here.
Koegler also stated they are planning for potential surge capacity and are looking for alternate care sites if needs extend beyond the hospital's capacity.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced her office is looking into possibly three local businesses who have received reports of price gouging.
California’s anti-price-gouging statute prohibits raising the price of consumer goods and services such as food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, and more, by more than 10% after an emergency has been declared. Violations are subject to criminal prosecution.
For those businesses who refuse to comply with the executive shelter in place order, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff is working to educate them and urge compliance.
D.A. Dudley also confirmed the Sheriff was aiming to grant early release to some county prisoners to reach a 10-12% reduction. She stated many of the people were most likely within 30 days of release but this is done at the discretion of the Sheriff.
The full press conference is available below: