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Santa Barbara County confirms third COVID-19 death; millions in state, federal assistance needed to further address virus
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Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County confirms third COVID-19 death; millions in state, federal assistance needed to further address virus

A third death related to COVID-19 has been confirmed — a South County individual in their 70s who was in hospice care — the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported Thursday.

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to their family and loved ones," Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said at an afternoon press conference.

According to Ansorg, the individual was already living in hospice before contracting the virus. The patient's name was not released. 

Ansorg also announced 20 additional confirmed cases in the county as of Thursday, six of which are associated with the outbreak at the Federal Penitentiary in Lompoc, for a total of 354 cases thus far in the county. 

Of the total cases, 159 are recovering at home, 39 are recovering in the hospital with 14 in intensive care units, and 137 have fully recovered. The department is awaiting updates on the status of 16 cases, and a total of three individuals have died. 

The total also includes 45 health-care workers who have tested positive for the virus as of Thursday. 

Earlier this week, the governor's office released guidelines outlining broad parameters for safety and virus containment that will be needed prior to reversing the stay-at-home order that's in place.

While the county Public Health Department has agreed to fulfill the guidelines locally, officials believe a heavy increase in funding will be needed to pay for additional testing as well as further hiring and employee pay to properly meet the needs in the community. 

"Local governments and health care providers will need more financial assistance from state and federal governments to take on the new responsibilities that will be required to make these transitions work," 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart said. 

Taking into account loss of revenue from coronavirus impacts along with costs incurred from responding to the virus, the county is anticipating nearly $40 million in budget hits through the end of the fiscal year in June, Hart said. 

"Devastating revenue losses are still being evaluated, but as a short term mitigation measure, the use of general fund reserves will be required," Hart said. "Now more than ever, we will need even more assistance to help us get the financial resources necessary to implement the Governor's COVID-19 transition framework and get our community back to work."

Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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