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Santa Barbara County officials vote to reopen sooner, formally submit request to state

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Posted at 12:17 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 15:17:29-04

Santa Barbara County officials want to move to reopen faster and made it clear with a vote on Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to send a letter of self-attestation to the California Department of Public Health, formally requesting the green light to move forward. That process could take several days.

The roadmap document to the reopening has a core framework, industry sector guidelines and a readiness and containment plan.

That would allow in-person dining, schools, childcare, other offices, and shopping malls to reopening with restrictions.

A number of stakeholders and groups totaling more than 350 participants held nearly 30 meetings over the past several weeks to gather input and formulate a plan.

The feedback showed innovative ideas but also a number of challenges ahead.

Stakeholders asked how to effectively plan at a community level with uncertainty in state approach and its timeline. There was concern on the guidelines increasing expenses while at the same time capping demand of services. Stakeholders felt the some criteria of the state guidelines are too restrictive.

The new criteria eliminates requirements that a county have no deaths and no more than than 10 cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period. That was a big hurdle for Santa Barbara County when the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Lompoc outbreak counted against the counties numbers even though county officials have zero control at the federal prison.

Now counties must have no more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents or no higher than an 8% positive rate among people tested for the coronavirus. They also must have no higher than a 5% increase in hospitalizations over a one week period or no more than 20 people hospitalized per day over a two week period.

Santa Barbara County's seven day average of daily percent change is 2.2%, according to the presentation from public health director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso.

Testing, which results can now be available from one to three days, has also now met the state's requirements of daily testing of 1.5 per 1,000 residents. The county will also have by the end of the week 113 contact tracers to help. It will also to accommodate a minimum surge capacity of 35 percent. All other required categories have also been achieved including protection of essential workers.

Businesses will go through the RISE Self Certification, an online resources that will provide preparation plans for their industry to put into action. Businesses can post the industry-specific checklist in the workplace to show customers and employees that it has reduced the risk and are open for business. That list will be found at ReadySBC.org.