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Santa Barbara County releases local reopening guide, confirms 15 new COVID-19 cases
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Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County releases local reopening guide, confirms 15 new COVID-19 cases

Santa Barbara County confirmed 15 additional COVID-19 cases on Friday, five of them among inmates at the federal penitentiary in Lompoc and 10 among county residents.

Of the new non-prison cases, five are located in Santa Maria, one is in Santa Barbara, three are in Lompoc, and one is in the unincorporated North County area.

The total number of cases among county residents is now 504, of which 97 remain active.

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At the federal penitentiary, there are now 898 confirmed total cases, of which 797 remain active. 

San Luis Obispo County confirmed three additional COVID-19 cases Friday for a total of 240, of which 49 are considered active. 

RISE Guide

On Friday, Santa Barbara County also released the first draft of its local reopening plan, called the Reopening in a Safe Environment (RISE) Guide. 

The 80-page guide, which is available for viewing and community feedback at, will be presented to the Board of Supervisors for final approval on Tuesday, May 19. 

"The RISE Guide, for Reopening in a Safe Environment, will supplement the governor’s state reopening guidance. This guidance is designed to be a living document that we expect to be revised as circumstances require," 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart said. 

Led by an expert panel of epidemiologists, physicians and public health experts from local and state hospitals, the guide was crafted with input from various sector leaders and leaders from all county cities, according to county officials.

The guide discusses plans for the county's transition between each of the governor's four stages, with Stage 1, Safety and Preparedness, already passed.

Stage 2 deals with the reopening of low-risk businesses such as retail with curbside services, bookstores and manufacturers. Counties were able to enter Stage 2 as of last week.

Stage 3 deals with high-risk businesses and activities such as personal care facilities and in-person religious services. Stage 4 marks the end of the stay-at-home order and the reopening of public areas such concert venues and sports arenas. 

Section 1 of the county guide outlines current state guidelines for reopening, with Section 2 posing draft reopening guidelines during stages 3-4.

Sections 3-8 outline draft guidelines for specific sectors that will open in these later stages, including bars and lounges, faith-based and community organizations, body art facilities, personal care salons for hair and nails, fitness centers and gyms, and lastly, events, venues and attractions. 

County-provided isolation housing

County public health officials continue to conduct contact tracing with individuals confirmed for the virus, advising them to self-isolate at home for two weeks after results come back positive.

For those unable to find a place to effectively isolate, such as those experiencing homelessness, the county offers free housing options for the course of the isolation period.

According to Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso, around five individuals per week have been utilizing the county-provided isolation housing.

Two individuals taken into the housing were inmates released from the federal penitentiary in Lompoc on Wednesday after completing their sentences. 

According to county officials, the two former inmates had been confirmed for the virus and had two days left of their isolation period, with both being asymptomatic. 

However, before the end of their isolation periods, one former inmate left the county housing and went to the Los Angeles area, with county officials advising the public health department in the area of their still-active status.

"Since that time, we have worked diligently with the prison officials on an ongoing basis to develop a protocol for responding more quickly to individuals who may be released from the facility while still testing positive," said Bernard Melekian, assistant county executive officer. 

Infographic: San Luis Obispo County Coronavirus Cases

Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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