Tuesday, October 19, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 33

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 22nd, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 22, Issue 30 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 22, Issue 30

Santa Barbara County Main Jail COVID-19 outbreak increases

By Taylor O'Connor

As of Sept. 20, 83 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 due to recent outbreaks in Santa Barbara County’s Main Jail

During the COVID-19 update at the Board of Supervisors’ Sept. 21 meeting, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said that 24 of the inmates who tested positive were fully vaccinated, one had received their first Pfizer dose, seven were asymptomatic, and three were hospitalized. 

“We are still tracing on the outbreak, but the feasibility is that it was an employee that brought it in. We went back eight days and had three employees that tested positive, one of them had been vaccinated,” Brown said. 

Seventeen inmates have recovered and 83 have tested positive since the a COVID-19 outbreak started at the Santa Barbara County Main Jail in August.

Five custody staff had tested positive for COVID-19, with two recovered, according to a press release, and 17 inmates have recovered. 

Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Raquel Zick said Public Health and the Sheriff’s Office continue to take proactive measures for the health and safety of staff and inmates at the Main Jail. 

“As we identify COVID-19 positive inmates, they are moved into an area of the facility that has negative pressure cells. In the case of an outbreak, only those with active symptoms are moved. We also separate those who were exposed but have not tested positive,” Zick stated in an email. 

These individuals are isolated for a minimum of 14 days and monitored by medical staff. Inmates with severe symptoms or with underlying health conditions are transported to a hospital for evaluation and treatment, she said. 

“Inmates are tested when they arrive in our custody and are housed separately from the general population during the initial 14 days of their stay,” Zick said.

Inmates are then tested again before moved out of quarantine and into a general facility. 

The outbreak investigation began on Aug. 20, with 11 inmates and one staff member testing positive in the South Module. This is the third outbreak in the past month and follows the February 2021 and December 2020 outbreaks. 

According to a press release, the Sheriff’s Office continues to work with Wellpath—a correctional facility health care service provider—and Public Health to vaccinate both custody staff and employees, as well as provide testing.  

All inmates in the West Module were antigen tested to establish a baseline and isolate infectious cases. Additional COVID-19 testing occurred to ensure all positive individuals were identified, Zick said. The Sheriff’s Office also requires deputy and staff testing every shift and inmate testing twice a week. 

Wellpath has administered 493 vaccinations since the beginning of the pandemic with 35 percent of the current inmate population and 62 percent of custody staff fully vaccinated, the release said. 

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