Santa Barbara County to build detailed plan for reopening local economy

Posted at 11:18 AM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 21:27:18-04

Tuesday's Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting covered a wide variety of topics including the COVID-19 case demographics to the path of reopening the local economy.

Santa Barbara County is now beginning to build a 4 to 6 week phased reopening plan that could start when Gov. Gavin Newsom begins to ease restrictions.

A letter stating the needs of the county will be sent to the governor's office. A similar letter was sent by San Luis Obispo County elected leaders on Monday. Newsom said he had not yet read it, but expected to see a more from counties around the state.

An project team will be organized to develop a strategic plan for the phased reopening.

It would also engage REACH, the tri-county planning group, to assist with the plan and facilitate stakeholder collaboration efforts.

A countywide stakeholder team would be formed with participants to government, schools and business industries.

A draft document then would be made for further comments. Then a road map would be finalized to be presented and approved by both the public health director and Board of Supervisors.

This plan would still follow direction from the governor's office. District Four Supervisor Peter Adam suggested defying Newsom's orders and reopening the economy sooner.

"I would recommend at least interpreting the governor's as liberally as possible and open our economy as soon as possible fully," Adam said. "If not, simply defy it and make him come in a force it. Because I think its filled with vagueness among other things and I think that we have a responsibility to future generations to open this thing."

Supervisors and public comment revealed similar feelings. Those who called in to the meeting demanded the economy be reopened as soon as possible. Officials assured the plan would be expedited.

Tuesday's presentation by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department included a look at the demographics of confirmed cases.

Currently the number of new cases announced each day are on a downward trend, according to Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, but there remains "variability day to day."

While there are a lower number of cases than predicted in previous models, active cases are still growing.

"We need to see consistent decline to inform policy changes," Do-Reynoso said.

Among all cases, 61 percent (135 cases) are Hispanic people. Data showed 31 percent (68 cases) are Caucasian. Three cases are Asian, four cases are African American.

About 90 percent people confirmed to have coronavirus have insurance.

Numbers showed 31 percent of cases live in households with two or less people, while 53 percent lived in a home with three to five people. Fourteen percent lived in a home with six or more.

Other data reported by people confirmed to have COVID-19 included:
- 43% reported they made $50,000-$75,000 household income
- 36% reported they had some college or technical training
- 80% reported they had either somewhat, moderate, or were extremely knowledgeable about coronavirus
- 80% reported they learned about coronavirus from TV news
- 48% reported they understood social distancing and practiced it before getting sick
- 48% reported they either did not know anything about social distancing, or understood why it is important, or simply could not practice it

Currently 30 percent of all the county's cases come from the Lompoc U.S. Penitentiary.