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Jail numbers drop but Santa Barbara County wants more action on coronavirus issues

Warning sign at Sheriff's dept.
John Palminteri
Special warning signs have gone up at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's department to alert people who want to enter, that they must be in good health. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Sheriff testing
(Photo: SB Sheriff's Dept.)
At the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Dept. to enter the jail people must be in good health. (Photo: John Palminteri)
jail postcards
Sheriff's dept.
More postcards are available at the Santa Barbara jail for inmates since they can no longer get visitors. (Photo: Sheriff's Dept.)

SANTA BARBARA CO., Calif. - With a sound of urgency, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino is asking for more messages, outreach and a firm tone about the widespread risks of coronavirus.

Speaking at the Board of Supervisors meeting, Lavagnino says he is hearing from community leaders who report many people failing to understand the health concerns or the proper protections.

He wanted a new message now, not next week.

"I really feel like if we wait around another week and you craft something and by that time, it's too late,"  said Lavagnino.

He wants the message out in more languages that English and Spanish.

"Give me a message,  we can have it delivered,  it will cost practically nothing,"  he said.

You can expect to see increased public service announcements and text messages in the next few days.

Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, the Santa Barbara County Health Director says, "we are partnering up with our community interpreters to be able to that."

Santa Barbara County received a briefing from several departments including the Sheriff.  He says deputies are ready with protective gear but want to manage their supply.

That also means the department has a back up plan to keep answering the 911 calls, if some of the front line deputies have to stay home due to the illness.

"As an example many of our detectives have redirected their daily tasks to reduce their interaction and potential  exposure to the public so they may be available to the public and front line law enforcement if needed," said Brown.

There are  changes at the jail.   When anyone comes in,  they will have their temperature taken.   If they are running a fever, a sign of the virus,  they will be turned away.   Signs are up at the entrance explaining the strict procedures.  An employees is at a table to check people in.

"In order to reduce the risk in the main jail there has been an enhanced early release program.  In February there were 918 people in the facility,  now it is down to 685,   the lowest number since the 1970's.

With no visitors allowed now in the jail,  inmates are being given more time on their electronic pads,  and more prepaid postcards to write messages to loved ones.

Other county concerns have been raised by Santa Barbara County Supervisor Peter Adam.  He said the numbers he is seeing are not clear enough.  "I am not a big fan of the way we are dealing with this."    In looking at the data and timeline estimations he said, " because we don't know any of that stuff is true and it give a false impression of what is happening or likely to happen."

One county model shows the coronavirus peak dates running from April 26 through July 28.

Health / Local Politics / Politics / Safety / Santa Barbara- S County / Santa Maria - North County

John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.