County Jail Inmate Tests Positive for COVID-19

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County Jail Inmate Tests Positive for COVID-19
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File Photo: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office

Source: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office

Sheriff Bill Brown announced today that an inmate in the Santa Barbara County Jail has tested positive for COVID-19. The 40-year-old was arrested by members of the Santa Maria Police Department and booked into the Main Jail on April 1, 2020 on charges of burglary, stalking and being under the influence of drugs. 

The inmate, whose name is being withheld for safety and medical privacy reasons, does not have any underlying health problems. 

As part of the Jail’s COVID-19 response plan, all newly admitted inmates are held in a reception housing area that is separated from the Jail’s general population. After inmates complete a reception stay of 14 days or more they are examined by medical staff from Wellpath, the Jail’s contracted medical provider, prior to being rehoused in other areas of the facility. On April 14, 2020, during such an examination, the inmate was found to have a fever. The inmate was immediately removed to a negative pressure room in a special housing area and placed on quarantine protocols. The inmate was immediately tested and the Sheriff’s Office received the positive result late last night. The Sheriff’s Office conducted a contact tracking investigation to determine if anyone may have been exposed to the inmate while he was infectious, and forwarded that investigation to the Public Health Department for evaluation and follow-up. 

The Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with our Wellpath partners, developed a comprehensive COVID-19 prevention and response plan that includes various steps to help reduce the chances of a COVID-19 outbreak at the Jail. These include the 14-day minimum reception process mentioned above; the completion of a medical examination on each new inmate in a private area outside the perimeter of the Jail; checking the temperature of all staff and other persons entering the facility; providing all staff and inmates with appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), including issuing an N95 mask to each and requiring that the masks be worn during transportation to and from and while in court; providing education and information on how to stay healthy to every inmate on a continuing basis; providing inmates with cleaning supplies and extra soap, and increasing the number and frequency of cleaning and disinfecting work crews throughout the facility.

In addition, since Gov. Newsom declared a state of emergency on March 4, 2020, the inmate population in the Jail has been reduced from 906 to 582. The Sheriff’s Office, State Courts, Probation Department, District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, and Behavioral Wellness Department have collaborated on identifying and releasing a number of low-risk inmates accused of lower-level crimes. The Sheriff’s Office has also released other inmates per the Judicial Council of California’s emergency order that reduced bail on many felony and most misdemeanor offenses to $0 during and for 90 days following the ending of the emergency order. 
Chief Custody Deputy Vincent Wasilewski stated, “The reduction in population we have experienced during the last month and a half has given us the opportunity to compartmentalize our population and develop a defend-in-place housing plan that we would not have been able to do otherwise.”

The Sheriff added, “Each of the inmates who were released early or whose bail was reduced to zero pursuant to the emergency order were screened and assessed before they left the Jail. Whenever appropriate and possible, supervision restrictions were made a condition of release, and discharge planning for community-based support related to housing, mental health and drug treatment was arranged.”


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a-1587176176 Apr 17, 2020 07:16 PM
County Jail Inmate Tests Positive for COVID-19

I just read a story about an Lompoc inmate (Lompoc prison). He was sent “home”, obviously very ill, on a Greyhound bus, after serving 27 years of a “life sentence”. The bus apparently dropped him off in San Bernardino County where his sister picked him up. He died several days later of Covid 19. I’m not sure what time period this happened but am positive it was between now and the beginning of our social distancing suggestions/orders.

kennydinsb Apr 18, 2020 05:58 AM
County Jail Inmate Tests Positive for COVID-19

Thank you to the agencies listed above for releasing inmates into the wild to protect them from Covid-19. Many or most of these "low-risk" inmates are homeless and have no money, so what do you think they will do to get money once they get out? I can tell you, because last Saturday I returned to my truck parked on Cabrillo Blvd. at 10:30 to see that four windows had been smashed. The police had the man in custody and reported that they had already busted him a couple hours earlier for the same thing, but could not detain him because of the new directive. They cops even knew who he was because he has been such a repeat offender in SB. Mine has been far from the only smash and dash case since the release of convicts, John Palmenteiri has reported on the sudden increase in auto and business burglaries. So I guess that the Sheriff's Dept. should be paying my repair bills since they have made the decision that it is better to protect the health of the convicts than the safety of Santa Barbara residents.

Luvaduck Apr 18, 2020 09:18 AM
County Jail Inmate Tests Positive for COVID-19

Since that is the release prospects for inmates and given that most of them are not in jail for spitting on sidewalks (as likely to spread disease as that is), it would make much more sense for them to be put in single room lockdown for 14 days and if not ill, housed in a separate communal situation to serve out their time until prison is Covid-free. They shouldn't be at risk of losing their lives if their sentence isn't death, but neither should they be inflicted on the general public as they add insecurity to an already difficult situation both through their choice of a criminal career and through their higher likelihood of their getting and passing on Covid if they are freed.

Concerned4Calif Apr 18, 2020 08:46 AM
County Jail Inmate Tests Positive for COVID-19

I honestly think people would be safer from the virus and other dangers, and better cared for in jail. It seems they are at more risk to themselves and the community when released.

a-1587302043 Apr 19, 2020 06:14 AM
County Jail Inmate Tests Positive for COVID-19

Some people commenting here seem to have forgotten that the jail has been overcrowded for YEARS. Without the release of several hundred prisoners, it is nigh on impossible to implement “social distancing”, let alone have enough solitary confinement cells for treating people during a pandemic.

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