Lompoc Prison Could Delay Reopening of Santa Barbara County
County Supervisor Gregg Hart speaking during Friday's press conference
By edhat staff
The COVID-19 outbreak at the Federal Penitentiary in Lompoc could delay reopening Santa Barbara County, officials announced during a press conference Friday afternoon.
Governor Newsom released new guidance and requirements to move into Phase 2 of reopening. The first two criteria state COVID-19 related deaths must not occur in the past 14 days, and there is no more than one case per 10,000 residents in that same time period.
Due to the circumstances at the Lompoc prison, Santa Barbara County fails that test. Approximately 95% of California also fails and will still be bound by the stay-at-home orders until the Governor lessens the restrictions.
Santa Barbara County Supervisor Gregg Hart stated these new requirements were not what officials were hoping and preparing for.
Gov. Newsom has previously stated the virus is still very contagious and any county that refuses to follow his orders may run the risk of losing financial assistance, said Hart.
What makes Santa Barbara County's situation worse is the ever-increasing outbreak at the Lompoc Prison.
Public Health officials reported 311 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, with 310 cases belonging to the Lompoc prison outbreak. As well as two new deaths, one being an inmate.
Assuming the county doesn't have any other COVID-19 deaths in the next 14 days, the earliest date to slowly reopen would be May 23.
Making matters worse, county officials are being "constantly rebuffed" by prison authorities when trying to help the outbreak, said Hart.
The county is responsible for the tracking, monitoring, and reporting of COVID-19 cases at the federal penitentiary, but they have no authority to resolve the issues as it's overseen by the federal government, he said.
Hart continued explaining he has been contacted by numerous family members of inmates who have been unable to communicate with their loved ones or learn the status of their health.
"That is very concerning," he said.
Local state legislators are now jumping on board to appeal to Gov. Newsom and his office for help.
As of Friday evening, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is reporting 823 inmates and 25 staff members test positive for COVID-19.
County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg stated there will be a discrepancy between the prison's reporting and the Public Health Department's depending on when the data is received. However, 70% of inmates that test positive report mild to no symptoms.
Dr. Ansorg stated he's in constant communication with state officials and is confident they will work together to reopen the county quickly.
The latest numbers show 1,032 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Santa Barba County, 582 cases are at the Federal Prison in Lompoc and 450 are community cases, and 463 have fully recovered.
Two hundred twenty-five people are recovering out-of-hospital, 39 are recovering in a hospital, 12 of whom are in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and 294 are pending an update. Eleven deaths have been reported.
Two deaths were reported today, one being an inmate at the Lompoc Prison, the other was an individual who resided in the City of Lompoc and was in their 60’s with underlying health conditions.
“We are saddened by the loss of these individuals and extend our deepest condolences to their friends and families. As we continue to battle the spread of COVID-19, we ask community members to continue doing their part by wearing facial coverings while in public and continuing to practice social distancing,” said Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, Director of Public Health.
Dr. Ansorg confirmed that hospitalization and ICU rates are remaining stable and hospitals are operating below capacity. The county numbers are currently very high as each inmate and staff member is being tested at the prison as part of general screening.
For more information on the location and ages of each case, publichealthsbc.org.