SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Before learning about the fifth COVID-19 death in Santa Barbara County, Fourth district Santa Barbara County Supervisor Peter Adam talked about his determination to reopen the economy.
"I would recommend at least interpreting the governor's order as liberally as possible, and open our economy as soon as possible fully, if not simply defy it, and make him come enforce it. I think it's void on vagueness, among other things, and I think that we have a responsibility to future generations to reopen this thing. And yes some people will get sick and that is unfortunate, but some people are going to get sick in any case and we can't stop that. We're just inducing a depression and I find that apalling, " said Adam.
Adam's own community of Santa Maria has 107 of the 429 cases in the county to date.
The rising number of cases and deaths has some people thinking twice about rushing a reopening.
County CEO Mona Miyasato said, “I think we're not going to reopen until there's clear guidance from the governor about that.”
Das Williams said, "People are suffering out in our communities, losing jobs, and facing deepening financial and human crisis. We are attempting to plan how, once the Governor lifts the 'Shelter in place order', we would allow people back to work in a safe manner. Today's death, like all we lose to sickness or poverty, is a tragedy and a reminder of how, despite reducing infections, we are not through the public health crisis and how we must map out a safer way forward. "
Williams said the county approved a draft of a letter that will be sent to the governor. The letter acknowledges smaller counties are not eligible for some state funding that will be needed to meet the governor's reopening guidelines.
The county will need resources for testing, hospital equipment and homeless shelters.
Both counties are reaching out to REACH, a regional economic action coalition serving the Central Coast.
REACH CEO Melissa James said, " Our role is to integrate this type of thinking and planning and action, to ensure when the time comes to open up our community, and our economy, that we are ready and it is smooth and efficient and safe as possible."
James called it a partnership.
"Right now we are working on the immediate economic and health impacts of the COVID 19 crisis supporting both are public health officers and our government leaders in what would be the phased reopening plan to open up our economy and communities. Such a plan requires that the public health is leading the decision making to keep our communities safe and healthy, but it requires the partnership and integration of our education system, our business leaders, and our community leaders who are sharing in the impacts and um are required to adhere to the guidelines.”
Although some people would like to see a reopening of the economy by summer, it won't be business as usual.