Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases title=
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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a-1589557594 May 15, 2020 08:46 AM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

That prison needs to be shutdown. If they are not reporting these numbers, think of everything else that they are hiding up there from the local community (hazards, environmental concerns, etc). How's the groundwater in this area, what is leaching into the soil nearby that our community farms? The infected Guards have been in our community from the start of the outbreak (whenever it was first known at the prison), many of them live in Santa Maria, is this a reason that the cases have been higher up in the north county. Irresponsible, reckless and pompous behavior. What are the legislators actually doing for us, are they doing enough??

Lorax May 14, 2020 07:24 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

Glad to see the local officials coming around. We flattened the curb, we have been good citizens, so lets move on! Let everything open with only 2 requirements wear a mask and physically distancing.
If you don't agree, stay sheltered at your home and protect yourself and help the economy by supporting instagram and mail order businesses.
If this were not an election year, the Virus and Politics would not be so symbiotic. From the get go both Parties have used it to further their agendas. We are slipping into socialism like quick sand.
Come on SB, we are free thinkers, wake up! They need to stop the great destruction of wealth to truly keep people healthy. Would be great if they started posting deaths in the county from other causes such as all accidents, heart attacks, strokes, cancer , diabetes. to name a few.

a-1589499369 May 14, 2020 04:36 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

As of May 11th, 2020, the average daily death toll due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. was around 939 since the occurrance of the first case on February 15th. Based on data from 2019, almost eight thousand people die every day in the United States from all causes. During the 2018-2019 (October to April) influenza season, around 161 people died daily on average from influenza. Taking the latest numbers into account, it seems that at this moment almost one out of three deaths in the United States every day have involved COVID-19.

a-1589494584 May 14, 2020 03:16 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

Since SB has NO spine and is more cash strapped then ever, she's got her legs open wide for any tourist who wants to come and spend money at the expense of those who actually live here. Murillo wants the bars open just like the clowns in Wisconsin. You know why? That's all there is now. What average Westside dwelling resident is going to Lark on the weekly?

ChemicalSuperFreak May 14, 2020 10:37 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

@ 6:15 pm: I just checked out the website you cited and it currently says" 2,517,899 Currently Infected Patients, 2,517,888 (100%) in Mild Condition, 45,560 (2%)Serious or Critical." That's a total of 102%, which makes no sense. I'm not sure you should trust that website because there's something wrong with their counter.

a-1589505301 May 14, 2020 06:15 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

CSF, it comes from World of Meters, which updates every several hours, as you know. And that has been about the average since they began tracking worldwide. Right now, 1035688 active cases, 16240 of those are listed as "critical" = .016 , or about 98% mild or no symptoms, and reported as such on their website. Of course, there is other data there that be extrapolated, including state-by-state, but everything so far confirms the percentage I reported.

ChemicalSuperFreak May 14, 2020 03:33 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

@ 2:46 PM: Where did you get the "98% of people affected have mild or no symptoms" statistic from? I'm truly curious, because about 30% of reported positive cases in Santa Barbara County end up in the hospital (according to the SBPHD website). That doesn't sound like mild or no symptoms to me. Can you help me understand how you arrived at that number?

a-1589492808 May 14, 2020 02:46 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

@2:34 - there is a huge difference between "rates" and "deaths". The point is, rates will continue to go up or stay roughly flat depending on the amount of tests being administered, if we can even trust those numbers. What we have to worry about is the number of deaths going up exponentially compared to the rate of infection. And the numbers and the CDC revised statistics just don't support that; there revision from 24 hours ago now displays an actual death rate directly attributable to the COVID-19 virus itself of between .5 and 1% of the United States population. People seem to be worried that rates=deaths and that is simply not the case. To date, and though this whole thing since numbers were being tracked, 98% of people affected have mild or no symptoms. I hope this clarifies my earlier comments.

a-1589492079 May 14, 2020 02:34 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

@1:54 Not sure about Florida or Georgia - but Texas rates are going up

Alabama, South Dakota and Texas have already begun to see an uptick in confirmed coronavirus cases since they’ve eased coronavirus restrictions and begun reopening nonessential businesses, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday.

a-1589489699 May 14, 2020 01:54 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

You have been saying that "spikes" will go up exponentially for weeks if lockdown ends - seems like some are almost hoping cases and possible deaths will go up if we don't keep restrictions in place. Please explain to us why states that have opened, such as Florida, Georgia, and Texas, the rate has remained the same or gone down while states and SB county that are still practicing lockdown have done the same. There seems to be little or no difference and even the CDC is now stating that.

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 :-(

Bene May 14, 2020 05:10 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

Let me add to your list of what can damage the economy and cause suicide and depression:
opening up too soon with the resulting costs associated with health care overwhelm, lost wages, death, burial, grief, and business closures due to "employee hotspots" and lack of customers. During the "Spanish flu," restrictions were lifted too soon in San Francisco, resulting in a deadly "second wave." That is one example of why top scientists and doctors are not advocating that we "open up" so soon. From the Black Plague onward, new disease outbreaks of great magnitude have caused economic disruption if there are no restrictions. The economic disruption is solved when the pathogen is finally brought in check. Nothing like Covid-19 has occurred before in the U.S. in our lifetime. We need to look at the long term gain, as there is a lot more to lose by being impatient and wanting instant gratification for ourselves in the short term.

Sam The Dog May 14, 2020 03:09 PM
Supervisors Approve Letter to Governor to Exclude Prison from County Cases

AHLIA, You equate collateral damage only to the back to business side. Why ignore the collateral damage with the continuing the stay at home / destroy our economy side? Proven collateral damage that is directly correlated to increased unemployment such as alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, suicide, un-diagnosed yet treatable conditions, food insecurity, famine (though more an international problem but they're still people!). Should we ignore all these other health problems, which are also killing people, and only focus on not letting one more person die from covid? Why can't I be pro business and pro humanity too?

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.

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.

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 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!!

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.

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?

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.

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