Twelve inmates were diagnosed with COVID-19 Wednesday in the west housing module at the Santa Barbara County Main Jail, where visitation has been suspended.
On Friday, one additional COVID-positive inmate was detected in the jail’s east housing area.
All COVID-19 positive inmates are continuously monitored by custody staff and Wellpath medical professionals, according to the Sheriff’s Office. None of the COVID- positive inmates required hospitalization. Two inmates have been reported symptomatic, and 11 are asymptomatic.
As COVID-19 positive inmates are identified, they are moved into an area of the facility that has negative pressure cells.The remainder are placed together in small groups and isolated from other inmates and monitored by Wellpath for symptoms.
Inmates with severe symptoms or who have underlying health conditions are transported to a hospital for evaluation and treatment, although none of the inmates in this outbreak have had to be taken to a hospital.
As a result of this outbreak and after consulting with the Santa Barbara County Public Health, the Sheriff’s Office decided to suspend visitation to the Main Jail.
“We are also coordinating with the Santa Barbara Court and the Public Defender’s Office to adjust court appearances to minimize the spread of the virus through the movement of inmates,” Raquel Zick, the Sheriff’s Office public information officer, said in a news release.
The Sheriff’s Office has worked on a continual basis with our Wellpath and Public Health partners to address this outbreak as well as to establish and constantly re-evaluate plans for health safety within the Main Jail.
Inmates are tested when they arrive in the Sheriff’s Office’s custody and are housed separately from the general population during the initial week of their stay. They are tested again before they are moved out of the quarantine area into other areas of the facility.
The Sheriff’s Office continues to offer all three of the COVID-19 vaccines to all inmates as well as an incentive program where funding from the American Rescue Plan Act is used to award newly vaccinated inmates with $20 added to their commissary fund for full vaccination or $10 for a booster. Additionally, Wellpath has administered more than 796 vaccinations at the Main Jail in Santa Barbara and Northern Branch Jail in Santa Maria since the beginning of the pandemic.
All staff, both professional and sworn, who work in positions that have direct inmate contact, are regularly tested and are required to wear an N95 mask while working, according to the Sheriff’s Office.