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88 inmates and staff members test positive for COVID-19 at Santa Barbara County Jail since August

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- A COVID-19 outbreak continues at the Santa Barbara County Jail.

So far, 88 inmates and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

The sheriff's office said priority one is to get the outbreak under control and to stop the spread at the county jail in Santa Barbara. But low vaccination rates among the inmates and the staff could have played a role in this outbreak.

83 inmates and 5 Santa Barbara County Jail staff have tested positive for COVID-19 since August. Of those, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said 23 inmates have fully recovered. 1 was hospitalized but has since recovered and returned to jail.

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Raquel Zick said, “Our 60 active COVID positive inmates, of those 24 are fully vaccinated and one of them is partially vaccinated.”

Just 35% of all inmates are fully vaccinated and 62% of the jail’s staff members are fully vaccinated, the sheriff's office said. Both groups have vaccines readily available to them.

“Anyone who does come into our care, if they are not currently vaccinated we do offer all three vaccinations,” said Zick.

When an inmate is brought to the jail, Zick said, they take a rapid Covid test, then go into a 10-day quarantine.

Then they're rapid-tested again before entering the jail population. At this time inmates may only visit with their lawyer behind glass.

When asked where the outbreak started, undersheriff Sol Linver said it’s feasible it came from a staff member, but they are following all county public health guidelines.

“Our staff are very regularly tested," said Zick. "They’re tested at least once a week. Anyone with face-to-face contact with an inmate is tested every single day.”

The Sheriff’s Office said it has contained the outbreak to the south and west dorms and those infected have been moved away from other inmates. 

2 of the 5 staff members have recovered.

How the outbreak started is still unknown but the sheriff’s office said right now their main concern is stopping the spread of the virus.

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Scott Sheahen

Scott Sheahen is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Scott, click here.

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