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Santa Barbara County reports 99 COVID-19 cases; number in SLO County hits 80
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Santa Barbara County reports 99 COVID-19 cases; number in SLO County hits 80

COVID-19 case progression graphs

Three graphs comparing the progression of new COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County, left, with those in California, top right, and the nation, bottom right, show the rate of the local increase mirrors those of the other two.

Santa Barbara County has 99 cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, with a case progression that mirrors that of the state and the nation, according to a report delivered to the Board of Supervisors at a special meeting Tuesday.

Van Do-Reynoso, director of the County Public Health Department, said the county had conducted 761 tests for coronavirus as of Monday. Updates from the Public Health Department Tuesday evening show this number rising to 799 conducted tests since then. 

Results are pending on 99 of these cases and 600 of those tested are negative. Of the 99 confirmed cases, 57 are recovering at home and 13 have been hospitalized, with 11 in intensive care units, according to the Public Health Department. No deaths were reported.

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Of the 11 new cases announced Tuesday, one is in Santa Maria, one is in Orcutt, two are in the area of Guadalupe and other unincorporated North County area, two are in the unincorporated area of the Goleta Valley and Gaviota, and five are in the area of Lompoc, which includes Mission Hills and Vandenberg Village. 

San Luis Obispo County reported three new confirmed cases on Tuesday for a total of 80.

Showing three graphs of the case progression, Do-Reynoso said at the meeting that the county is on the same projected curve as the state, which as of March 29 had 5,763 cases and 135 deaths, and the nation, which had 140,905 cases and 2,405 deaths.

She said the county is looking at three models of case progression, which project the run of the disease with peak dates of April 26 to July 28.

“So we’re at the top of the curve,” she said, admitting the lack of hard data makes it difficult to predict the course of the disease and what is needed.

But she said the county is “aggressively pursuing” 500 to 1,000 alternative hospital beds that will allow caring for the critically ill, and she expects to have 500 within two weeks.

The county currently has 85 ventilators and has requested 100 more from the state, along with 500 disposable ventilators.

“How many we’ll get is anyone’s guess,” she said, noting patients are staying on ventilators longer than anticipated.

She also said anyone who is showing symptoms of COVID-19 and doesn’t have insurance can get free care at the Public Health Clinics, even if it turns out they don’t have the disease.

Meanwhile, the inmate population in Santa Barbara County Jail is the lowest in 50 years, and the number of bookings is the lowest in county history as a result of efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus, County Sheriff Bill Brown said Tuesday.

In an update on COVID-19 in the county delivered to the Board of Supervisors, Brown said the jail house 685 inmates as of Monday, which he said was the lowest amount in more than 50 years and down 20% from the same time last year.

Brown didn’t give a number for those admitted into the jail, but he said “it’s the lowest we’ve ever seen in history.”

He said the low numbers are the result of deputies and other law enforcement officers making fewer arrests and increased credits for release of inmates, which is also based on their likelihood of reoffending.

Deputies and law enforcement countywide are using discretion in enforcing social distancing orders and noted the level of cooperation they are seeing is “exceedingly high.”

“It’s critically important that everyone in our community embrace this stay-at-home order,” Brown said. “This is not just a strain of the flu.”

“I’m pleased to say we haven’t had that many calls,” he said of people reporting others for violating social distancing orders.

Brown said of the nearly 900 employees of the Sheriff’s Office, five had been tested for coronavirus, with one positive result. None were hospitalized, and one is already back at work.

Another 17 employees were quarantined due to possible exposure, and eight more self-isolated because they had symptoms or were potentially exposed.

County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said firefighters are now wearing the full white hazmat suits on all calls along with the “duck bill” N95 masks and are carrying surgical masks for patients who potentially have the disease.

“We are looking at, down the road, running out of [personal protection equipment],” Hartwig said.

Coronavirus Series: Local impact and reaction to COVID-19 on the Central Coast

We are working hard to get answers about the impact and reaction to the coronavirus in Santa Barbara County, this is a collection of those stories. Do you have a question about coronavirus in Santa Barbara County? The Santa Maria Times news staff will work to answer your questions. Post them to our Facebook page, or email MCooley@SantaMariaTimes.com.  You can support the work of local journalists working hard in your hometown by signing up for a News+ Membership online

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News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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