Fourteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported Monday within the Santa Barbara County community, with another 40 being logged at the Lompoc federal correctional complex.
The 54 new cases bring the county’s total to 1,362, according to the county Public Health Department.
Of the community cases, 13 are in the city of Santa Maria and one is in the Santa Barbara area.
There were 37 people in the hospital, with 10 in intensive care units, as of Monday, and hospitalization numbers have remained stable over the last two weeks.
Those numbers include an unknown number of prison inmates, which the county is withholding at the request of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Public Health officials said 477 people are recovering at home and 474 people have fully recovered from COVID-19. Both numbers include an unknown number of inmates.
The status of 363 other patients — presumably nearly all inmates — was pending Monday.
Eleven people in the county have died of COVID-19, including two Lompoc prison inmates.
The outbreak at the prison has been particularly vexing for county officials, who complain that Bureau of Prisons officials have been uncooperative, in terms of accepting help from the county and in communicating details in addressing the situation inside the walls.
Gregg Hart, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said at Monday’s COVID-19 briefing that county officials have been very disappointed at the response from the prison officials.
“We’re working hard to find out more about what’s going on in the prison,” Hart said.
He noted that in mid-April, the county offered to do tests at its Lompoc clinic for the estimated 450 staff at the prison, but in the first week, only five showed up for tests.
Since then, he said, the number has risen only to about 60, although it’s possible they may be getting tested elsewhere or through the prison.
Three state-run community testing sites opened in the county last week and about 1,200 community members have been tested so far, but most of the results have been delayed longer than the two-to-three-day turnaround time, according to Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s public health officer.
The good news, Ansorg said, is that only a very small number of the results have come back positive as of Monday.
Ansorg noted that “even though a majority (of the community) are taking excellent precautions, there are still many who are not following social-distancing, and are letting their guard down.”
That, he said, could lead to an undesirable outcome.
“More mobility of people will lead to wider spread of this virus,” Ansorg said.
He added that “any lapse in caution now will delay our ability to open up more.”
The state’s current standard for additional reopening is for the county to have no more than one COVID-19 case per 10,000 population and no deaths over a 14-day period.
A group of North County officials and legislators on Monday sent a letter to the state, asking that prison-related cases not be considered when evaluating Santa Barbara County’s reopening readiness under those standards.
With the prison numbers included, the county has little chance in the near future of meeting the state’s statistical requirements for further reopening, they wrote.
The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will receive a briefing on COVID-19, and will consider sending its own letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The draft letter asks the state to exclude inmate case counts from the county total and to change its standard to a low fatality rate, rather than zero deaths in a 14-day period.
But Ansorg said Monday that “the prison count is not the only statistical hurdle,” pointing out that the county’s experience over the last two weeks does not meet the state’s standards.