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Lompoc penitentiary has 67 COVID-19 cases, highest number of prison cases in nation
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Lompoc penitentiary has 67 COVID-19 cases, highest number of prison cases in nation

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The Lompoc Federal Penitentiary has the highest number of cases among prisons nationwide with 67 inmates confirmed positive, according to data Tuesday from Santa Barbara County and the Bureau of Prisons

The outbreak at the Lompoc prison was first announced by the county last week and includes 24 prison employees in addition to inmates, public health officials announced. 

The county Public Health Department is continually testing and quarantining individuals to limit further spread of the virus and is supporting the construction of a field hospital at the prison to assist local medical centers, Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said. 

"The Public Health Department has intensified our cooperation with Infection Control and medical teams at the prison, and we are supporting the Bureau of Prisons in their effort to stand up a field hospital on the prison grounds in order to offload the burden on local hospitals," he said. 

Of the cases at the penitentiary, one prison employee and 12 inmates are  hospitalized, with two inmates in intensive care units, according to county data. 

Data from the Bureau of Prisons shows slight differences from numbers reported by the Public Health Department, which Ansorg said is due to differing cutoff times for reporting case numbers each day. 

The total case count for the county comes to 313 with 29 new cases reported Tuesday, public health officials said. 

Next steps in COVID-19 response

Along with announcing case counts, public health officials reiterated that prevention measures such as social distancing and staying at home will be continuing in the county for the time being, with the potential for considering next steps at the end of May if the practices are adhered to. 

Officials referenced a Tuesday announcement by Gov. Gavin Newsom outlining six necessary indicators that could signal the beginning of a transition out of the stay at home order, stating that the indicators would also need to be reflected in the county to consider lifting the stay-at-home order. 

The indicators include the continued ability to monitor communities through testing and isolating patients, the ability to prevent infection in high-risk individuals, the ability of hospitals to handle patient surges, the ability to develop necessary therapeutics, the ability for businesses, schools and child care facilities to continue supporting social distancing, and the ability to determine when to re-institute certain measures including stay-at-home orders, according to the Governor's Office. 

Infographic: San Luis Obispo County Coronavirus Cases

Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.

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