Santa Barbara County confirmed 21 additional coronavirus cases Wednesday for a total of 334, with numbers in the outbreak at the Federal Penitentiary in Lompoc continuing to rise slowly.
The outbreak, which was first announced last week by the county Public Health Department and is now the largest prison COVID-19 outbreak nationwide, includes 68 inmates and 25 prison employees as of Wednesday.
According to Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso, the department is assisting the prison with three main objectives: disease control and mitigation, setting up medical services on the prison grounds and continuing to test symptomatic staff at the prison.
"We have been in close contact with prison leadership," Do-Reynoso said.
She added that the prison is in negotiations with a private medical provider to establish an on-site field hospital with an eventual capacity goal of 100 beds, in order to lessen the demand on local hospitals.
Of the 334 cases in the county, 144 are recovering at home, 38 are in hospitals with 15 in intensive care units, two have died, and 134 have fully recovered, according to Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg.
"Our current cases are reflecting an ongoing linear increase in case numbers, however, we do have stable hospitalization and ICU numbers," Ansorg said.
Compared to neighboring counties, Santa Barbara County's total recovery rate of 40% is slightly lower than Ventura County's 45%, with both falling far behind San Luis Obispo county's recovery rate of 85%.
As communities look ahead toward transitioning out of shelter-at-home practices, 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart said the county will be following state guidelines, which require communities to meet multiple safety and virus containment parameters before easing restrictions.
"County government will meet the governor's challenge, and our county's Public Health Department will tailor our approach to meet our own unique community needs. Dr. Ansorg and the Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health agree that the governor's decision to reverse the stay-at-home order must be based on sound medical guidance," Hart said.
Infographic: San Luis Obispo County Coronavirus Cases
Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.
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