Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases
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.
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.