Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties said on Monday that they are looking to secede from the Southern California region and receive separate consideration from the state in determining COVID-19 restrictions.
By being considered independently as the Central Coast region, the three counties said their greater joint ICU capacity, currently at 32%, in comparison to the Southern California region’s overall capacity of 10.9%, would make their pathway out of the regional stay-at-home order quicker than if they were to be under the Southern California regional restrictions.
On Dec. 8, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors echoed this call, voting unanimously to pass a request from the county’s public health department to draft a letter requesting Governor Gavin Newsom to allow these three counties to be judged as their own region.
This request states that should the combined current and four-week projected ICU capacity of these three counties remain above 15%, then after three weeks, the Central Coast region should be allowed to exit the Southern California regional stay-at-home order.
Van Do-Reynoso, director of Santa Barbara’s Public Health Department, presented the reasons behind the health department’s drafting of the letter.
“We are unique, we are common and we have a lot of strengths in the three counties in terms of doing joint prevention and treatment efforts to reduce case rates and testing positivity. We ran our numbers, and we consistently have a higher ICU capacity jointly between the three counties,” Do-Reynoso said at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Terri Maus-Nisich, the assistant county executive officer for Santa Barbara County, said at the meeting that if the three counties are allowed to operate as their own region, they are likely to exit the regional stay-at-home order faster than if they remained a part of the Southern California region.
“The Central Coast region consistently models [the] best practices to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus disease. We have a unique ability to protect our shared constituencies and maintain our critical ICU capacity,” Maus-Nisich said.
“We believe that there is a high prevalence of disease in the larger Southern California region which could very likely prevent the Central Coast from emerging from the regional stay-at-home order in a timely manner.”