Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

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Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases
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Board of Supervisors Meeting (Photo: John Palminteri)

By edhat staff

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved writing a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday to review stay-at-home order restrictions in light of the unique outbreak at the Federal Penitentiary in Lompoc.

Gov. Newsom released new guidance and requirements last week to move into Phase 2 of reopening. If a county meets the requirements they can speed quickly through Phase 2, but cannot advance to Phase 3 until the Governor advances the entire state.

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, also referred to as Epidemiologic Stability.

Due to the outbreak in the Lompoc prison, Santa Barbara County does not meet the requirements for epidemiologic stability, said Public Health Department (PHD) Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso.

All other variance criteria have been either achieved or is in progress. 

Slide from Dr. Do-Reynoso's presentation on Tuesday

The county is responsible for the tracking, monitoring, and reporting of COVID-19 cases at the federal penitentiary, but has no authority over prison operations. Supervisor Gregg Hart previously stated in a press conference that local officials are "constantly rebuffed" when trying to access information to provide support to the prison. 

Supervisors approved putting together a letter to Newsom asking for more discretion in the required criteria and to exclude Lompoc prison numbers from Santa Barbara County's data.

Local legislators have also hopped on board to help lobby the Governor on the county's behalf stating the prison is unique problem that requires a unique solution.

Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed at least two or three other counties may join Santa Barbara's effort to challenge the epidemiologic metrics set forth by the state. "It doesn't make sense and it's not reasonable and it's not academically rigorous either to say zero deaths rather than do it by population," she said.

During the meeting Supervisor Steve Lavagnino asked County Counsel Michael Ghizzoni what would happen if Santa Barbara followed other counties such as Modoc, Yuba, and Sutter by ignoring the Governor's executive order.

Ghizzoni replied that violating the order is enforceable by law, could threaten eligibility to disaster funding from the state, and could potentially put small businesses at risk of losing their state licenses. 

On Tuesday, Governor Newsom loosened the stay-at-home order a bit more by allowing outdoor museums, car washings, pet grooming, landscaping, and some offices, all with modifications and restrictions.

Current COVID-19 Numbers

As of Wednesday, there are 1,376 confirmed cases of Santa Barbara County with 6 new cases. Of the new cases, four were located in Santa Maria, one in Orcutt, and one at the Federal Prison in Lompoc.

Of the grand total, 896 are people incarcerated at the Lompoc prison and 480 are in the community. 

In the community, there are 394 recovered cases, 43 cases in quarantine, 26 hospitalizations with 10 in the intensive care unit (ICU), 10 pending information, and 9 deaths.

At the Lompoc prison, there are 719 active cases, 95 recovered cases, and 78 pending information.

Dr. Ansorg stated that hospitalization and ICU rates remain steady in the county. All local hospitals are reporting below capacity with the ability to surge if needed.

Ventura and SLO Counties

As of Wednesday, Ventura County reported 25 new cases for a total of 725. Of the total, 477 have recovered, 23 are hospitalized with 12 in the ICU, and there have been 24 deaths. All patients who died reportedly had comorbidities with 17 of them being over 65 years of age and 2 being between the ages of 25 and 44.

In San Luis Obispo County, there's a total of 232 cases. Of those, 183 have recovered, 44 are at home, 4 are hospitalized with 2 in the ICU, and there has been 1 death.

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sblocal1967 May 13, 2020 08:17 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

"Ghizzoni replied that violating the order is enforceable by law, could threaten eligibility to disaster funding from the state, and could potentially put small businesses at risk of losing their state licenses."

Are you kidding me? Small businesses are not worried about losing a state license - they are worried about losing their business. Very sad that the people making these decisions never had to make a payroll. The reason Trump is pushing so hard to re-open is that he understands business. I am not a Trump fan at all - but I get what he is trying to do. If the left would be just a bit more rationale - then the right would not have to be so aggressive.

Sam The Dog May 13, 2020 09:09 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

SBLOCAL, your common sense doesn't work here on edhat. Believe me, I've tried. I said the at-risk, the concerned, or those that simply don't want to get it can stay home and shelter in place while those of us willing go back to work to produce for our families and community can, and we'll support those that can't (or even just don't want to). Even then they feel others going out puts them at risk, even if they themselves aren't going out. hmm? So everyone should stay home, then what? The virus isn't going away. I've been waiting for someone from the stay at home crowd to share an idea of what the endgame looks like, haven't received an answer... How long do we stay at home, another month, six months, a year? No answer.... I say LET PEOPLE CHOOSE the risks they're willing to take yet the stay at home crowd wants to force their view on everyone else arguing its puts them (or those at higher risk)... at more risk. But if they stay at home, as they're arguing, how are those that choose/have to go out increasing the risk of the stay at home crowd if they're staying at home? Groceries can be delivered safely, what more do they need? Delivery is expensive they say, and that's not okay, but people losing their jobs is? They also equate opening up to big parties, free for alls, and mass gatherings, like the public is a bunch of dumb @sses. The majority of us are very aware of what's going on, very aware of the basic preventive measures that can be taken that people simply didn't appreciate before. We will not be back to normal for a long time but we need to start down the path of what the new "normal" will look and those that are willing should be allowed to venture down that path and lead the way for everyone else to follow. Phew, enough for tonight...

DansClan May 13, 2020 09:48 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

Sam, the issue most of edhat has with you is that in a time of uncertainty you are demanding certainty. Through the fires and mudslides we have proven to adapt. I have no clue why you feel so stuck; you can eat from many restaurants, visit several beaches and parks, go shopping at many locations; what is it that had caused you so much trauma?

sbmh2015 May 13, 2020 10:50 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

Sblocal...name one business of trumps that hasn't gone bankrupt. He is a complete failure as a business man. Do some research. You will see. Oh and don't forget his charity and university. Had to pay out 25 million for fraud and is never allowed to run either of those again.

a-1589426892 May 13, 2020 08:28 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

HIDE IN YOUR HOMES EVERYONE!!!!! THERE WERE 6 NEW CASES IN A COUNTY OF 500k!! Sure none of them were within 40 miles of SB, but common!!!! We’ve been told to Panic and hide so PANIC, HIDE!!! keep everything closed and try not to breathe if you’re outside as this thing will get you!!!!

ginger1 May 13, 2020 10:09 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

Great post! Don't forget we will soon be able to go to a restaurant at an actual table. But you're going to have to wear a mask. Apparently, it's okay to remove the mask while eating. Wheww! It is unclear whether or not you are allowed to remove it for drinking. Just remember, out of the next ten thousand people you come across, it is likely that two of them will have covid-19. Maybe three. There were about 200 people at Hendry's today, that would mean the chances of someone at the beach having the virus is.........way too small to calculate, but go ahead. Do wear a mask if you think *you* might be ill. That's the right thing to do. If you're wearing one to protect yourself, you're in Fantasyland, not Santa Barbara.

YepSB May 13, 2020 08:35 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

If Lompoc prison numbers are to be excluded in the decision to open the county then the entire operating staff of the prison must be kept isolated within that prison community. That would be the only answer to not letting that population be a spread point.

a-1589465816 May 14, 2020 07:16 AM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

The prison could work something out with the Base to house all the prison staff that needed to be isolated. The two federal entities should be working together. But, alas, when there is no leadership or competence at the federal level, we have a mess.

Woke87 May 14, 2020 02:29 AM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

The biggest problem I see in California is isolating openings of different counties. I fish the piers almost every day. And I have been meeting people from northern and and Southern California. Us being the only beaches etc open just brings people from other areas. How is this helping the situation from spreading amongst communities? If they’re closed and we’re open people come here from over 100 miles away... I support freedom but ending all this via leaving it up to each county... I doubt has substance. Closing beaches in one place will just bring them to where it’s open... feels like shooting our communities in the foot. Either all beaches, piers are open or none. Pains me to say. But I’ve talked to many from out of town and it feels weird is all I’m saying.

a-1589473180 May 14, 2020 09:19 AM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

Gregg Hart and his fellow Supervisors seem to think SB County should be treated differently than virtually every county in the state- ALL counties have some sort of congregate living situation- nursing homes, state hospitals, state prisons, etc- that have excess numbers of positive Covid tests. Certainly Lompoc is at the top of the Feds list. But to ask for State to EXCLUDE the numbers- is absurd. Hart seemed stumped [which translates to anger from him] when reporters press him for how to reconcile exclusion from the fact that hundreds of employees come and go from prison into the community. Why doesn't the Board focus on what the County CAN do as opposed to looking for an external bogeyman. Our numbers, apart from the prison, are way too high. County needs to require masks indoors, as other cities in County do.

a-1589475522 May 14, 2020 09:58 AM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

I am torn about it. I understand why they want to exclude it, but if ANY workers are having contact with ANYONE outside the prison, I agree with you and I don't think this is a responsible decision! Are workers provided or have available on-site housing on the prison property?

SantaBarbaraObserver May 14, 2020 10:02 AM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

They approved the writing of a letter? Did they also furrow their brows and clutch their necklaces? A letter... Weak and ineffective governing. Just pass the buck down the line like every other government official and agency is doing. Feds to States, States to Counties, Counties to Cities, Cities to >>> People. Here's an idea. Let the actual people decide their fate. I know, crazy! But I believe that we're all capable of making decisions on our own health and well being. Sure there are idiots. But there are not enough of them to hold the market up (thankfully). The truth is that most small businesses in SB are never going to come back. Restaurants and bars are all but done. Most will close and a few will re-tool but the operating margins on a sit-down establishment are tiny. To flourish in the food and drink business you need volume. Sure they can triple their prices but that wont work in a recession. And would someone please explain to me how its OK to go to the local hardware store but not OK to go to the _____ store? When government picks winners and losers, we all lose.

Sam The Dog May 14, 2020 10:35 AM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

BigUgly, we are not acting recklessly and calling for a reopening isn't reckless. It won't be normal, but it would be open for those that want to venture out. Arbitrarily allowing some businesses to open while forcing the population to stay at home until a cure for covid is found... IS RECKLESS!! The virus isn't going anywhere, there will be more waves, but shutting everything down isn't the solution. Just as my generation looks back and the irresponsible spending and environmental practices of the prior generation, my kids will look back to our response to a virus and think WHAT THE ACTUAL F^&K WERE THEY THINKING!!

Chip of SB May 14, 2020 11:32 AM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

I agree and I think the government seriously needs to have its wings clipped. The amount of unchecked power being wielded by governors and officials is frightening. We need to make sure this draconian overreach can never happen again. The Wisconsin supreme court ruling is a great start.

Sam The Dog May 14, 2020 11:57 AM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

Although the government and health departments did not (and still do not) have the authority to force healthy people to stay at home (except those who have been known to be in contact with someone who was sick) I agreed with the original premises back in March. We don't know what's out there, let's pause for a few weeks, flatten the curve, reduce the strain on our healthcare system. We did that, time to move on and face the virus. This bait and switch that was pulled I fully do not agree with nor should citizens of all political affiliations agree with. Agree with being cautious, agree with giving people the freedom to choose the risks there going to take, but this... I can't believe this is the United States where a single governor is using authority he doesn't legally have (even in a pandemic emergency) to force people to arbitrarily close their businesses (sorry Plum Goods, people can only shop at Costco and Target) and stay at home. Whether you choose to continue staying at home or not, you can not so easily allows your rights to be taken away.

a-1589482944 May 14, 2020 12:02 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

Fattening the Curves is what's happening. People are gorging on tasty junk food: cookies, cakes, pies, potato chips, corn chips, chocolate bars/nibs/bites/bits, English toffee, ice cream bars, fast food, pizza, donuts, donut-holes, apple fritters, cannoli, pancakes w/syrup/butter/jam/jelly, hot dogs, nachos, taquitos, mini-tacos, chicken-fried steak, gravy, sausages, sausage rolls, french fries, onion rings, and more. People are washing this garbage food down with sugary drinks, sodas, Kool-aid, ice tea, and more. Weed sales = off the charts. Liquor sales = off the charts. I'm sure I forgot something is this list.....oh yeah, bacon, sweet crispy bacon cooked in bacon juices.

Ahlia May 14, 2020 12:41 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

Sigh... must 'every' edhat post always have to be about whatever each poster's political persuasion is ? This is a WORLD wide threat to public health about a virus that we know all too little about. Why can't we all agree that this decision to break quarantine really comes down to 2 sides : Doctors & Scientists : who want to save lives ....... OR ..... Business : Let's get back to making $$ Money$$ ( Deaths & Terrible illnesses ? ? Collateral damage :-(

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