18 Santa Barbara County Jail inmates test positive for COVID-19

·2 min read

Sep. 21—More than a dozen additional Santa Barbara County Jail inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak that has infected more than 80 people since August, according to a sheriff's spokeswoman.

Inmates from the West Module on Saturday were given PCR tests administered by Wellpath, the jail's contracted medical provider, after they were exposed to a person who was infected with the coronavirus but originally tested negative.

Thirteen positive results came back Monday morning, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Raquel Zick. Jail staff also conducted five-day antigen testing for inmates who had tested negative for the coronavirus, with five of those tests coming back positive.

A total of 66 inmates are currently infected with the disease, Zick said.

Since Aug. 19, 83 inmates have been infected, and at least 17 have recovered. Five custody staff members also have tested positive, with two having recovered, according to Zick.

Zick said the Sheriff's Office is taking proactive measures at the Main Jail in consultation with County Public Health officials, including testing inmates when they arrive and initially housing them away from the general population for 14 days.

Inmates are tested once they're moved out of quarantine and tested if they exhibit symptoms of coronavirus or have been exposed to the disease.

Inmates who test positive for the coronavirus are moved into an area of the jail that has negative pressure cells, and only those with active symptoms are moved in the event of an outbreak, according to Zick. The rest of the inmates are placed in small groups that are isolated from other inmates.

"We also separate those who were exposed but have not tested positive," Zick said. "Inmates with severe symptoms or who have underlying health conditions are transported to a hospital for evaluation and treatment."

Currently, 62% of the custody staff has been vaccinated and at least 35% of the current inmate population is fully vaccinated, according to Zick. Wellpath has administered 493 vaccinations since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Zick.

As a recommendation of public health officials, Zick said staff are tested on a daily basis regardless of their vaccination status.

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