SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - An investigation into COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County shows about half of those who have died had conditions including diabetes, obesity and heart issues.
Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams noted, that means about half did not have any preexisting conditions.
New health analysis data was presented to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning. This information was requested as part of the Santa Barbara County Health Department's presentation on the coronavirus.
The Southern California region, which includes Santa Barbara County, went into a limited Stay-at-Home order Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. Governor Gavin Newsom made the decision due to the increased drops in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity.
As of Tuesday morning, the region was anticipated to be at 10.1 percent remaining ICU capacity. In order for a region to be lifted from the limited stay-at-home order, the ICU capacity would have to be at 15 percent or higher.
A letter has been written by San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura County Health Officers requesting to exit the Southern California Region after the current three week stay at home order.
The message indicates the counties would be better to decide its fate as a Central Coast region.
"We have a history of partnership. We are unique. We are common," said Santa Barbara County Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso. "We consistently have a higher ICU capacity between the three counties."
Letters are expected to be sent to the State Department of Public Health and the Governor's office.
There were about 40 speakers remotely via phone speaking at the Supervisors meeting about the letter. The majority of them favored the immediate steps to send the letter.
The owner of Bouchon restaurant, Mitchell Sjerven, went as far as saying the region should send a letter saying the tri-counties will not request to be put into a new region, rather it will do it on its own.
The county has said not following the rules in place in the health order is a violation of the law.
Many speakers talked about economic fallouts both personally and in the workplace. One speaker called the governor's action "bogus."
Timing of the order during the holiday season has also been viewed as critical for those businesses hoping to salvage the tragic year many have had.
COVID-19 testing is taking place in multiple locations including Goleta, Buellton and Santa Maria. The signups and tests are not yet at 100 percent per day, according to the recent appointment information.
Supervisor Peter Adam said he has been opposed to the county's process in dealing with COVID since early on in the pandemic.
"We have the capacity to continue working through the purple tier," Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said. He went on to say he supports the letter to the state on the Central Coast regional approach, but he wants input from area hospitals as well on the capacity issue.
Supervisor Joan Hartmann described the public comments as "a cry of desperation and anguish."
Lavagnino said some of the people commenting were business owners he recognized for decades.
"Our circumstances deserve a different approach," said Supervisor Gregg Hart ,who is the board Chairman. He urged the county to send the letter right away.
Lavagnino asked the county to do more than a letter. The idea of the Governor hearing from the five members of the Board of Supervisors was one strong message.
"Maybe if he heard from 50,000 of the residents," he said, would "carry more weight."