By Raiza Giorgi
The majority of the new cases of COVID-19 that have been reported since Wednesday are coming from an outbreak at the federal prison in Lompoc, according to data released by Santa Barbara County Public Health officials Thursday.
The total confirmed cases rose slightly to 243 with 14 of the 15 cases in the Lompoc area and one reported in unincorporated parts of Goleta and Gaviota. Ten of the Lompoc cases were from inmates at the prison, no staff tested positive health officials said at the press briefing.
“Yesterday additional healthcare coverage has expanded to all uninsured California residents regardless of age, income, immigration status,” said Dr. Van DoReynoso, director of public health.
Effective Friday, March 20, Covered California opened the health insurance exchange to any eligible uninsured individuals who need health care coverage amid the COVID-19 national emergency. Anyone who meets Covered California’s eligibility requirements, which are similar to those in place during the annual open-enrollment period, can sign up for coverage through June 30.
In addition, consumers who sign up through CoveredCA.com may find out that they are eligible for no-cost or low-cost coverage through Medi-Cal, which they can enroll in online. Those eligible for Medi-Cal can have coverage that is immediately effective.
DoReynoso said all five of the county healthcare facilities will be using this process for everyone who presents with symptoms are seen and do not receive a bill.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown was also at the press briefing where he encouraged people to avoid gathering for this weekends religious holidays such as Passover and Easter. He said they have increased patrols and will be breaking up any gathering and potentially citing people.
“This is not the time to return to large group activities,” Brown said.
He also said the social distancing is a concern for domestic violence from spousal, child and elder abuse. They don’t know for sure if it has risen as often these go unreported, but local law enforcement has launched a “See Something, Say Something” campaign. Anyone who might be a victim of abuse is encouraged to call 9-1-1 or the victim abuse hotline at 805-568-2400.