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More inmates test positive for COVID-19 at Santa Barbara County Main Jail

KEYT

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – More positive cases of COVID-19 have been identified among the inmate population at the Santa Barbara County Main Jail.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office announced Monday that more inmates tested positive for COVID-19 as the jail works to contain a recent outbreak of cases.

Inmates who were in close contact with a COVID-19 positive inmate were tested Saturday. The inmates had previously tested negative but have since tested positive. In total, 13 new inmates at the jail tested positive for COVID-19.

These newest cases brings the total number of inmates to test positive for COVID-19 during this recent outbreak to 83. 66 cases are active and 17 inmates are considered recovered.

Since the beginning of August, five custody staff have tested positive for COVID-19. Two of those sheriff's employees are considered to be recovered.

Inmates are tested when they arrive to the jail and are being housed separately from general population for the first 14 days of their stay, the sheriff's office said. They are tested again before being moved out of quarantine and again if they exhibit any symptoms.

The sheriff's office provided information about its process to keep inmates separated when one tests positive for COVID-19.

"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. The remainder are placed together in small groups (cohorts) and isolated from other inmates. We also separate those who were exposed but have not tested positive. Inmates with severe symptoms or who have underlying health conditions are transported to a hospital for evaluation and treatment."

COVID-19 vaccines are being offered to inmates at the jail, the sheriff's office said, but only 35% of the current inmate population is fully vaccinated. 493 vaccinations have been administered at the jail by Wellpath, a health care company contracted at the jail.

Jail staff, regardless of vaccination status, are tested daily as per a recommendation by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. 62% of those employed at the jail are fully vaccinated, the sheriff's office said.

The sheriff's office says it is consistently discussing procedures and plans to address outbreaks with Wellpath and the county public health department.

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Travis Schlepp

Travis Schlepp is the Digital Content Director for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Travis, click here.

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