By Raiza Giorgi

Santa Barbara County officials are lobbying state representatives to encourage Governor Gavin Newsom to look at the county’s unique situation with the Lompoc Federal Penitentiary. As the numbers show an increase of 311 cases since Thursday, all but one of those occurred at the prison. 

Per Newsom’s orders, to get to the next phase there has to be no deaths in the county for 14 days or moreand no more than four new confirmed cases a day. Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said that hasn’t occurred yet. 

“We are communicating to the Governor’s office that the prison should not affect the communities abilities to enter into the next phase,” Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart said. 

“We can manage the people in the community, including the prison staff, but not the prisoners themselves,” Hart added. 

More than half of the 1032 cases reported are from the prison (582), with three of the 11 deaths, according to SBC Health. However the Bureau of Prisons are showing 803 cases with 792 of those being inmates and 11 being staff, as of Friday afternoon. Lompoc is also the prison with the most cases in the entire country, according to their statistics. 

In the county community there have been 464 people that have fully recovered; 225 are recovering at home; 39 are in the hospital with 12 of those in the ICU, Ansorg reported. 

There have been 7,102 tests done with 1032 testing positive and 6,148 negative and 12 are inconclusive. 

“We have had many questions on the discrepancies in reporting, but we report the numbers our disease control processes by noon and with the large amount of data it’s taking longer to process,” Ansorg stated. 

He did say more than 70 percent of the prisoner that tested positive have no to mild symptoms. 

“The prison has more than 3,000 prisoners and 400 staff which made it a small town on a small parcel of land so there will be higher rates of infection,” he said. 

Ansorg said it does confirm that close proximity does make it easier for spread. 

In the Santa Ynez Valley there have been very low numbers reported with first around five cases for the first two weeks, and then no cases reported for several weeks until this past Sunday when an additional case was reported. Then on Thursday two more were reported for a total of eight cases. 

Ansorg said with the three new testing facilities and expanded tiers of testing capabilities there is a high likelihood that the numbers of positive cases will rise. 

“The testing sites will remain open through the weekend as we are actively testing,” Ansorg said. 

As far as underlying conditions, while County Health have stated they cannot release specifically how people have died due to HIPAA laws, they did state they are seeing people with comorbidities such as medical obesity, diabetes, cardiac disease, and respiratory issues. 

“We are seeing that diabetes is playing a factor, and what is concerning is the age bracket of the severe conditions range from 30 to over 70,” Ansorg said. 

Hart also said regrind school closures that they are working with the school districts on how to reopen for the fall. Details will come soon, he said. 

SBC Public Health COVID-19 statistics as of Friday, May 8.