The Lompoc federal prison, a hot spot for the coronavirus, is looking to erect a field hospital on the correctional institution’s grounds to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic at the facility.
Prison leadership is in negotiations with a private healthcare provider to run and manage the field hospital, said Van Do-Reynoso, public health director for Santa Barbara County, during Wednesday’s daily press briefing on the coronavirus.
If everything goes as planned, the prison leadership hopes to be able to provide hospital services on site within 8 to 14 days.
The field hospital will launch with 11 rooms and eventually expand to 100, Do-Reynoso said.
“The intent for standing up this hospital within prison grounds is really to prevent overwhelming our local hospitals with both patients and their accompanying security,” Do-Reynoso said.
Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s public health officer, said the number of COVID-19 cases in the county is up to 334.
He announced 21 new cases Wednesday, including 144 people who are recovering at home and 38 who are hospitalized, with 15 in the intensive care units.
Another 134 have fully recovered, and two people have died in the county.
“Our current cases are reflecting an ongoing, linear increase in total cases,” Ansorg said. “However, we do have stable hospitalization and ICU numbers.”
He added that the county is performing about 80 to 100 COVID-19 tests a day.
Ansorg reiterated the need for good hygiene, hand-washing and continued social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In response to a media question, he also said that he would not be a proponent of closing beaches in the county because it is important for people to get outside during this time.
“If we can maintain room between people, I don’t see why we should close the beaches,” Ansorg said. “I think it is really important at this time also to think of our mental health and of our parents. Where are they going to go with their kids if we limit the outdoors? I am not in favor of that.”
At the prison, 68 inmates have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Of those, 13 are hospitalized and two are in the ICU.
An additional 25 employees at the prison also have COVID-19, with one who remains hospitalized, Ansorg said.
“We continue to work cooperatively with the prison administration and infection control team to limit the further spread of the disease,” Ansorg said.
Of the 21 new cases reported Wednesday, eight are in Santa Maria, seven are in Lompoc, two are in Santa Barbara and another two are in the areas of Montecito, Summerland and the city of Carpinteria, one is in Goleta and one is in Orcutt.
Cottage Hospital has tested 1,881 people for COVID-19. Of those, 154 were positive, 1,651 were negative, and 76 are pending.