The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced three new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the county’s cases to 1,520.
Of the new cases, two are residents in Santa Maria and the third is a resident of the unincorporated areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and the city of Guadalupe. No new cases were reported at the Lompoc federal prison, which as of Wednesday had 970 confirmed cases, 293 of which remain active.
In the county overall, 28 people are hospitalized due to the coronavirus, including 10 in the Intensive Care Unit.
To date, there have been 1,118 cases of recovery in the county, with 675 being from the prison complex, according to the county. Some 80% of cases outside the prison, or 443 of 550, have fully recovered, said County Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg during Wednesday’s press conference.
Board Chairman Gregg Hart described the past week as a “remarkable rollercoaster of events,” as the county went from facing a more than $50 million budget deficit over the next 12 months due to the coronavirus response to now expecting to receive nearly $45 million in federal funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised state budget. The adjustment came after the county Board of Supervisors wrote to Gov. Newsom’s office requesting the Lompoc prison cases not be counted against the county’s total.
On Tuesday, the board voted to send additional documents to Gov. Newsom’s office that may enable the county to move quickly through the second phase of the reopening process. If this request is granted, a new health officer order will be issued regarding what businesses can open, provided they have modifications in place to operate safely, Dr. Ansorg said.
Dr. Ansorg also said the county is “very seriously” examining a mandate to wear masks while at indoor venues in the county.
Also during Wednesday’s briefing, Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig addressed modifications that could occur should evacuation or shelter orders be issued in the case of a wildfire. The 2020 High Fire Season in Santa Barbara County began Monday.
Due to the pandemic, the fire department is unlikely to have large incident bases and is expected to adjust how they communicate and gather for meals. Changes could include fire crews remaining on the fireline during overnight hours as opposed to returning to a base camp to sleep.
Local shelters could also change based on federal, state and local health guidelines to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. This could include temperature checks or wellness stations, screenings inside the shelter, increased sanitation and other adjustments, he said.
“The types of facilities and settings will change, just like you’re changing your habits,” Chief Hartwig said. “ Things will change as we start opening up the county.”