Saturday, February 27, 2021     Volume: 21, Issue: 52

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 13th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 11 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 11

County letter to governor pushes back on reopening criteria

By Zac Ezzone

During the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting on May 5, county Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said the county was on track to reopen businesses at an accelerated pace. A week later, Do-Reynoso had a different message for supervisors.

During the board’s meeting on May 12, Do-Reynoso said that the state released additional details on May 7 that outlined how counties could become eligible to reopen businesses at a rate faster than the state. A few metrics in this criteria would be nearly impossible for the county to reach, she said.

“Last week seems like eons ago,” Do-Reynoso said. “It’s unreasonable for us to achieve [some of the metrics].”

Specifically, Do-Reynoso pointed to one metric that means the county could only reopen at a faster pace once its number of new COVID-19 cases is reduced to 45 in a 14-day period. Additionally, the state’s criteria requires counties to reach a point where they record zero deaths in a 14-day period. 

Regarding the latter metric, Do-Reynoso told the board that in her opinion, it doesn’t make sense. Instead, she said, the state should look at how well counties can protect vulnerable populations and safeguard its medical system. According to her presentation, only a small number of the beds county hospitals opened up to handle a surge in COVID-19 patients are being used. The number of people in the county hospitalized from the virus has hovered around 40 for the last few weeks.

During the May 12 meeting, the Board of Supervisors voted to send a letter to Gov. Gavin Newom’s office pushing back on the state’s use of these two metrics. This letter also includes a request from the county for the state to exclude the number of COVID-19 cases in the Lompoc federal penitentiary when reviewing the county’s case for reopening.

In early May, Bureau of Prisons officials began mass testing inmates in the prison, which has dramatically increased the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the county. According to Do-Reynoso’s presentation, from May 6 to 11, 787 inmates tested positive for the virus, compared to only 41 non-inmate community members.

“Santa Barbara County has no authority over this population, and while we have worked diligently in offering our assistance, we have no authority to impose disease mitigation strategies,” the letter states.

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