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The events centered around the publicly viewed murder of George Floyd headlined today’s county COVID presser. “It is important to say out loud that black lives matter,” Supervisor Gregg Hart started off, indicating that structural racism would be addressed in Santa Barbara County by looking at the jailing of people of color and listening to the communities who experience racism. Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso stated equity in health care was a core value for her department, and Elsa Granados reassured people who’d been traumatized through sexual assault that it was normal to re-experience the trauma when new crisis situations arose, such as angry protests, riots, and death.
All services at the agency Granados leads, Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA), remained available despite the COVID pandemic, and they were still counseling clients via telemedicine. Social media was taking up some of the messaging and communication, and in video counseling sessions, “Zoom bombing,” Granados reassured, was not possible. “We are being sure to maintain the confidentiality of counseling sessions,” she said. Attacks, like the one on Floyd, massive fires, and viewing crises make people feel overwhelmed and out of control. “Even if people felt they’d resolved their trauma, it comes back,” Granados said, and her agency welcomed people who wanted someone to talk with, needed support in making a report to law enforcement, and even take self-defense classes.
Solvang’s Veterans Memorial Building would be hosting a testing site by Friday, said Van Do-Reynoso, a location that is going through a wrestling match to remain in place with developer Ed St. George and Mayor Ryan Toussaint on one side and the community on the other. The state agreed to let the county move its Lompoc site to Solvang, because “we were not meeting the number of tests in Lompoc,” Do-Reynoso said. “We have partnered with the City of Solvang, and we will be there for at least two weeks.” Do-Reynoso encouraged all county residents to be tested to give Public Health a better idea of how much COVID exists in the county: Call (888) 634-1123, go to the website lhi.care/covidtesting, or phone the county call center if you need help making an appointment: (833) 688-5551.
To keep a public eye on the increase or decrease in Santa Barbara County cases, Do-Reynoso unveiled a new dashboard to go live at the Public Health website, publichealthsbc.org, on Tuesday. “The dashboard will give a week-to-week comparison of cases,” Do-Reynoso explained, as well as metrics on hospitalization, testing, testing capacity, and personal protective equipment — in other words, the requirements of the state guidelines.
From the weekend and today, Do-Reynoso said, the county had 20 new cases of COVID, 29 people in the hospital with the disease, nine of them in the ICU. Of the total 1,669 cases, 1,523 or 91 percent had recovered fully, which was noteworthy, she commented.
A new testing facility in Guadalupe completed nearly 200 tests in two days’ time, Supervisor Hart added.
As well, Hart noted that among the many nonprofits that have had to move events online, Santa Barbara’s Juneteenth celebration of the emancipation of slaves after the Civil War would be a digital one: For more, visit Juneteenthsb.com.
Hart also complimented the organizers of the weekend rallies in Santa Maria, Isla Vista, and Santa Barbara for taking “great care to ask participants to be safe and practice physical distancing,” with many among the thousands of participants wearing face coverings. “I want to assure you that every elected official in the county wants to hear from you,” Hart said, advising that although the Board of Supervisor meetings were only held online, people could comment by phone — (805) 568-2240 — and their emails were read into the record.
“We are all deeply saddened by the death of George Floyd and the other black people who’ve lost their lives to systemic racism,” Hart said. “If you are struggling during this time, please reach out for help.” The Community Wellness team can be reached at (805) 364-2750.
At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of this crisis — sorting truth from rumor. Our reporters and editors are asking the tough questions of our public health officials and spreading the word about how we can all help one another. The community needs us — now more than ever — and we need you in order to keep doing the important work we do. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.