The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed 11 additional COVID-19 cases Wednesday for a total of 440, while officials sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom requesting further financial assistance to meet the requirements of his six-point plan for gradually reopening communities.
According to 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart, the county is not eligible to receive necessary federal COVID-19 response funds from the CARES Act because the county's population is just under the threshold of 500,000 people.
"Our county’s ability to successfully work in alignment with the governor’s framework, and to alleviate the severe economic and social consequences that will worsen as each month goes by, are dependant on new resources from the state and federal government," Hart said.
He added that the county has lost an estimated $40 million from both decline in revenue as well as in costs for coronavirus response, and that more funds will be necessary to continue combatting the virus.
"We have asked Gov. Newsom to continue to work with our state and federal legislators, who have all been outstanding advocates for our county, to help backfill both lost local revenues and lost state revenues," Hart said.
The county Public Health Department also began instructing county hospitals and health-care faciltiies to resume non-urgent surgeries and services following a Wednesday announcement from the governor's office.
After weeks of rescheduling and postponing non-urgent surgeries, chronic care and preventative disease management services to provide space for potential surges of coronavirus patients, the services can resume as long as invidividuals needing care are first tested for the virus, public health officials said.
"The Public Health Department has immediately reached out to our hospitals and outpatient clincis to inform them about this development, and to give guidance on how to resume these services in the safest way possible," Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said.
While the announcement is the first step to gradually reopening businesses and services in California, a continued committment to staying at home and social distancing, as well as further county resources, will be necessary to ensure that the county can reopen safely, Ansorg said.
"As soon as we meet the necessary metrics of sufficient testing and resources to manage infected individuals, the appropriate modifications to the current stay-at-home order will be implemented swiftly in alignment with state guidance," he said.
Of the 440 cases reported in the county since the outbreak began, over 40% of individuals have recovered. A total of 186 are still recovering at home and 41 remain hospitalized, 12 of which are in intensive care units, according to Public Health data.
On Tuesday, the public health department reported a fifth death related to the coronavirus, a North County individual in their seventies with no underlying health conditions.
Wednesday also marked the first day that no cases were reported at the federal penitentiary in Lompoc since the announcement last week of a COVID-19 outbreak there, Ansorg said.
The outbreak in Lompoc is the largest concentration of cases at a prison facility nationwide, with 99 inmates and over 30 prison personnel confirmed for the virus.
Infographic: San Luis Obispo County Coronavirus Cases
Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.
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