Skip to Content

Santa Barbara Jail offering cash incentive for inmates to get vaccinated as latest outbreak tops 200 cases

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office has identified more positive COVID-19 cases within the inmate population at the Santa Barbara County Main Jail. Now the jail is using a new strategy to try and get more inmates vaccinated.

During Monday's update, the sheriff's office said 26 more positive cases were identified, bringing the total number of inmates to test positive as part of this latest outbreak to 208. Among those cases, 68 cases are considered active and 136 are considered recovered. Four inmates who previously tested positive have since been released.

This latest outbreak at the jail was first reported on Dec. 8.

In the weeks since the outbreak first began, the jail has taken a new approach to getting inmates at the jail vaccinated. The jail offers three different options for the COVID-19 vaccine and inmates who decide to get vaccinated can receive $20 to be added to their commissary fund for those who get fully vaccinated or $10 for receiving a booster shot.

The incentive funds come from the American Rescue Plan Act. Since the incentive program began, 148 inmates have opted to get vaccinated. In total, WellPath, the health care company contracted at the jail, has administered 630 vaccines at the jail since the pandemic began.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said it is continuing to work with Santa Barbara County Public Health officials and WellPath to mitigate this outbreak.

Inmates are tested for COVID-19 when they are brought into the jail and separated from the rest of the inmate population for several days, the sheriff's office said. Inmates are also separated if they are exposed to positive cases and those with severe symptoms or underlying health problems are taken to the hospital for evaluation.

Of those who have tested positive as part of this latest outbreak, 38 inmates reported having symptoms, 169 said they were asymptomatic and 1 declined to answer.

Currently, there are no reports of any jail employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 during this latest outbreak. Any employees at the jail who have direct contact with inmates is required to be regularly tested and wear an N95 mask.

The jail has experienced several outbreaks of COVID-19 among inmates and staff since the beginning of the pandemic. The most recent outbreak was fully cleared back on Nov. 23.

Author Profile Photo

Travis Schlepp

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

Skip to content