Santa Barbara, Calif. – The Sheriff’s Office is updating the status of COVID in our jail facilities. An outbreak was discovered on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, in the Main Jail West Housing Module. There are 26 total cases associated with the Main Jail outbreak with 18 inmates recovered and 8 active cases. One of the COVID positive inmates in this outbreak required hospitalization and has since been cleared for return to the facility, 8 inmates have reported being symptomatic, and 18 are asymptomatic.
On Saturday, May 28, 2022, Sheriff’s Office Custody staff and our Wellpath partners identified a COVID outbreak in the Northern Branch Jail (NBJ) Housing Unit E. There are 14 total cases associated with the NBJ outbreak, with 1 inmate released, 6 inmates recovered and 7 cases remaining in the facility. None of the COVID positive inmates in this outbreak require hospitalization, 9 inmates have reported being symptomatic, and 5 are asymptomatic.
As we identify COVID-19 positive inmates, they are moved into an area of the facility that has negative pressure cells. The remainder are placed together in small groups (cohorts) 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 necessitated hospital transport. As a result of these outbreaks and after consulting with County Public Health, visitation has been suspended. 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.
The Sheriff’s Office has worked on a continual basis with our Wellpath and Public Health partners to address these outbreaks as well as to establish and constantly re-evaluate plans for health safety within the Main Jail. Inmates are tested when they arrive in our custody and are housed separately from the general population during the initial 7 days of their stay. They are tested again before they are moved out of the quarantine area into other areas of the facility. During their stay, inmates are tested whenever they exhibit symptoms and whenever they might have been exposed to someone who has tested positive. 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 (ARPA) 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 over 796 vaccinations at the Main Jail and Northern Branch Jail 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. The Sheriff’s Office will provide regular updates on the status of these outbreak.