Santa Barbara County’s number of confirmed coronavirus/COVID-19 cases crept up by 19 on Friday to a total of 373.
Six of the new cases are prison inmates at the Lompoc Federal Correctional Institution. Overall, 80 inmates and 30 employees have tested positive for the virus.
A Lompoc inmate died from the coronavirus on Friday, according to a Bureau of Prisons statement released Friday night.
The death was not mentioned during Santa Barbara County officials’ briefing late Friday afternoon.
Inmate Oliver M. Boling, 66, went into respiratory failure at the U.S. Penitentiary on Sunday and was transported to an unspecified local hospital, according to the BOP statement. While at the hospital, Boling tested positive for COVID-19, and his condition declined Tuesday, leading doctors to place him on a ventilator.
Four people, including Boling, in Santa Barbara County have died from the coronavirus so far — two in the North County and two in the South County.
A majority of the total cases are from the North County; of the 19 new cases, only one is in the unincorporated area of the Goleta Valley, eight are from Lompoc, four from Santa Maria, three from Orcutt, and one in the area of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and Guadalupe (the county groups all of those areas together in its daily reports).
The county did not report locations of the other two cases.
Van Do-Reynoso, the county’s director of public health, said at Friday afternoon’s press conference that of the 373 cases, 157 were recovering at home, 43 were hospitalized, of which 14 were in the intensive care unit, and 152 had fully recovered.
The age range of the new cases is from younger than 17 to older than 70 years old. About 45 of the total cases are healthcare workers.
Public health officials continue to stress the importance of social distancing to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that hospitals in the county have enough beds in case there’s a surge of patients who get sick. County Health did not address the growing frustrations and concerns from businesses related to the closures of restaurants, retail stores and nonessential businesses.
“I would like to thank every single community member that has paused before leaving their home to grab a face covering, every person that has remained mindful of their physical distancing when at the grocery store or at their local park, or at the beach, everyone that has opted for a video call rather than an in-person visit or meeting,” Van Do-Reynoso said.
“Your singular actions are making a resounding difference in flattening the COVID-19 curve in Santa Barbara County.”
Do-Reynoso also said the county is compiling data on the demographics of people in the county with the virus, and the findings are expected to be reported at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
The county also announced on Friday that a 40-year-old jail inmate tested positive for the virus. He has been incarcerated since April 1. On Tuesday, medical officials at the jail determined that he had a fever. He was put in a negative pressure room and placed in quarantine. He tested positive for the virus on Thursday.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department performed an investigation to determine whether anyone was exposed to the inmate while he was infectious, and forwarded that information to the Public Health Department.
The Sheriff’s Department, according to a news release, has developed a comprehensive COVID-19 prevention and response plan that includes a 14-day minimum reception process; the completion of a medical examination on each new inmate in a private area outside the perimeter of the jail; checking the temperature of all staff and other people entering the facility; providing all staff and inmates with appropriate personal protective equipment, including issuing an N95 mask to each and requiring that the masks be worn during transportation to and from and while in court; providing inmates with cleaning supplies and extra soap; and increasing the number and frequency of cleaning and disinfecting work crews throughout the facility.
To help reduce the spread of the virus in the jail, the county has released 324 inmates — lowering the population from 906 to 582. The inmates released were considered “low risk” because they were involved in “lower-level crimes.”
“Each of the inmates who were released early or whose bail was reduced to zero pursuant to the emergency order were screened and assessed before they left the jail,” Sheriff Bill Brown said. “Whenever appropriate and possible, supervision restrictions were made a condition of release, and discharge planning for community-based support related to housing, mental health and drug treatment was arranged.”
— Noozhawk staff writer Janene Scully contributed to this report.