San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties want to be excluded from the state's new Southern California Region Stay at Home Order and create a smaller Central Coast Region.
On Tuesday, the Boards of Supervisors in the three counties issued a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom and state health officials requesting the change.
State health officials announced the Regional Stay at Home Order last week, breaking up the state into five regions: Northern California, Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California.
Whenever a region drops below an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity of 15 percent, a more strict Stay at Home Order is triggered and remains in place for at least three weeks. That order includes the closure of salons, theaters, wineries, bars, museums, zoos, and playgrounds, as well as restrictions on other sectors, such as limiting retail capacity.
The Southern California Region, which fell under the new Stay at Home Order Sunday night, includes San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, along with Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Imperial, Inyo, and Mono counties.
Currently, the region's ICU availability is 10.1 percent, but when the three counties are broken out, the availability of ICU beds is much higher.
ICU availability in the Tri-Counties area:
- San Luis Obispo County - 48.9%
- Santa Barbara County - 51.5%
- Ventura County - 12.1%
The letter sent Tuesday asks that the Central Coast Region be allowed to exit the Stay at Home Order after three weeks if the ICU capacity in the three counties exceeds 15 percent.
"Our community members and businesses are being unfairly burdened because the State lumped us in with larger metropolitan areas that are geographically, demographically and functionally distinct from the Central Coast,” said Lynn Compton, Chair of the County of San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors, in a statement. “The current region that the Governor has placed us in represents almost half of the State’s population but we are a less populated, suburban county that should not be categorized like the metropolitan areas. Reassigning our counties to a smaller Central Coast Region is a necessary step forward that will result in the best outcome for our local economy and our residents."
"It just doesn't feel right that people here have been following the rules, wearing the mask, doing the things that they're supposed to be doing and somehow we're being punished for something somebody does down in Inyo County, San Diego or somewhere else," said Steve Lavagnino, Santa Barbara County District 5 Supervisor.
A new Central Coast Region would include approximately 1.5 million people, according to Ventura County officials. The Southern California Region currently includes more than 23.1 million people.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's Health and Human Services Secretary, said Tuesday that he's heard from several counties that have questioned why they were included in a particular region but that he doesn't intend to make any changes at this time.
"Even if we delineated boundaries for the regions in Southern California, I believe that we would still see a significant part of the region under the Stay at Home Order," he said.
Dr. Ghaly said the regions were designed "in order to ensure that we have a thoughtful collection of resources in our hospital delivery system, making sure that if any region were to have an increase on their ICUs that we had a system to move patients thoughtfully from every part of a region to the areas of the region where the resources exist."
County officials say allowing the creation of a Central Coast Region will not have a significant impact on the ICU availability rates of the remaining counties in the Southern California Region since those counties are much larger and more populous.