Santa Barbara, Ca. – Sheriff Bill Brown announced April 17, 2020, that an inmate in the Santa Barbara County Jail has tested positive for COVID-19. The 40-year-old was arrested by members of the Santa Maria Police Department and booked into the Main Jail on April 1, 2020 on charges of burglary, stalking and being under the influence of drugs.
The inmate, whose name is being withheld for safety and medical privacy reasons, does not have any underlying health problems.
As part of the Jail’s COVID-19 response plan, all newly admitted inmates are held in a reception housing area that is separated from the Jail’s general population. After inmates complete a reception stay of 14 days or more they are examined by medical staff from Wellpath, the Jail’s contracted medical provider, prior to being rehoused in other areas of the facility. On April 14, 2020, during such an examination, the inmate was found to have a fever. The inmate was immediately removed to a negative pressure room in a special housing area and placed on quarantine protocols. The inmate was immediately tested and the Sheriff’s Office received the positive result late last night. The Sheriff’s Office conducted a contact tracking investigation to determine if anyone may have been exposed to the inmate while he was infectious, and forwarded that investigation to the Public Health Department for evaluation and follow-up.
The Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with our Wellpath partners, developed a comprehensive COVID-19 prevention and response plan that includes various steps to help reduce the chances of a COVID-19 outbreak at the Jail. These include the 14-day minimum reception process mentioned above; the completion of a medical examination on each new inmate in a private area outside the perimeter of the Jail; checking the temperature of all staff and other persons entering the facility; providing all staff and inmates with appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), including issuing an N95 mask to each and requiring that the masks be worn during transportation to and from and while in court; providing education and information on how to stay healthy to every inmate on a continuing basis; providing inmates with cleaning supplies and extra soap, and increasing the number and frequency of cleaning and disinfecting work crews throughout the facility.
In addition, since Gov. Newsom declared a state of emergency on March 4, 2020, the inmate population in the Jail has been reduced from 906 to 582. The Sheriff’s Office, State Courts, Probation Department, District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, and Behavioral Wellness Department have collaborated on identifying and releasing a number of low-risk inmates accused of lower-level crimes. The Sheriff’s Office has also released other inmates per the Judicial Council of California’s emergency order that reduced bail on many felony and most misdemeanor offenses to $0 during and for 90 days following the ending of the emergency order.
Chief Custody Deputy Vincent Wasilewski stated, “The reduction in population we have experienced during the last month and a half has given us the opportunity to compartmentalize our population and develop a defend-in-place housing plan that we would not have been able to do otherwise.”
The Sheriff added, “Each of the inmates who were released early or whose bail was reduced to zero pursuant to the emergency order were screened and assessed before they left the Jail. Whenever appropriate and possible, supervision restrictions were made a condition of release, and discharge planning for community-based support related to housing, mental health and drug treatment was arranged.”