Op-Ed: Advocacy Group Urges County to Address COVID-19 Outbreak in Jail


Avoid Catastrophic staffing Crisis and COVID Transmission

Nearly one-quarter of the 725 jail residents have tested positive during the outbreak that began last month. As of January 5th, there were 94 active resident cases and 32 active staff cases. Now mental health and health care staff report 45% vacancies and at times have been unable to provide COVID vaccines to anyone in custody, despite a backlog of requests from jail residents.

1. Reduce Jail Numbers Safely. The recent Jail rise from 580 to 725 results from triple the number of those accused of misdemeanors. Sentenced low level charged jail residents, and those nearing the end of lengthy sentences, should be screened and released. Sheriff Brown should be encouraged to follow the practice of other counties and use discretion for early release; thus far he has failed to act.

2. House mental health patients and those with substance abuse issues in appropriate alternatives. (A recent Santa Barbara Grand Jury Report found under use of current community mental health crisis beds)

3. Enable County Probation to coordinate risk assessments to recommend discharge. Ask the County Board of Supervisors to provide authority and resources so the County Probation can manage decisions related to discharge. The Supervisors should accelerate funding for a multi-disciplinary risk assessment team, appoint Probation to lead this effort, and immediately implement assessment and release of jail residents deemed not to be a risk to public safety.

4. Safe North County Branch Jail Opening. Lawyers recommend collaboration with their Jail Remedial Plan experts to provide safe staffing ratios and required safe transport practices for the north county move.

Send letter of support to county officials for a safer jail COVID response here: https://bit.ly/3nlw9n6

Op-Ed’s are written by community members. The views and opinions expressed in Op-Ed articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of edhat. Do you have an opinion on something local? Share it with us at ed@edhat.com.


Written by Anonymous

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  1. I just posted this in another thread:
    I’m no epidemiologist, nor am I credentialed, but I did work in infection control at a local hospital.
    This seems to be a decent protocol:
    “Inmates are tested when they arrive in our custody and are housed separately from the general population during the initial 10 days of their stay. They are tested again before they are moved out of the quarantine area into other areas of the facility. ”
    How are so many inmates getting Covid?

  2. Perhaps they will follow the model established hospitals. Fire all unvaccinated employees immediately. Then when they become short on staff, order covid positive (vaccinated) staff to come in and work. Here is a piece from msn explaining California’s new hospital policy.

  3. It’s an odd (and wildly out of touch) response. As per all logic…and science…and the experts… we are all getting it. Below are a few links from the cdc and dr fauci saying that, well… we are all getting it. Why the odd response ? Why the blatant disregard for virology?

  4. It’s crazy how political we’ve made Covid. The right hates Fauci for believing in Covid, and now I reference Fauci saying that everyone will be exposed to omicron and that gets downvoted too. The right and left hate the truth… crazy crazy times…

  5. Chip- When you say, “Covid positive (vaccinated)” you mean those with natural immunity due to transiting the disease? We’ve had Alpha and Delta and will be fully “naturally vaccinated” when we transit Omicron. The Omicron spike appears to be severe and sharp in numbers, then it drops off fast.
    On Wednesday we had 10k new cases in one day (pop 3.6 million)! It was 7k+ the day before and seems to be dropping fast now. It is much more mild and is not overwhelming the hospitals here, though they are asking people not to get tested is asymptomatic as the testing system IS overwhelmed. The government has no restrictions other than masking though many places take your temperature before entering. They recently announced that Citizens and legal residents may enter Uruguay (come home!) if they test positive for Covid. We are at the height of tourist season and everything is bopping. Many Uruguayos are back to greeting with abrazos, besitos and sharing maté, as before the epidemic. It will be interesting to see how this open policy pans out. I never thought that I could have much in common with the current, far Right wing government here, and am grateful that vaccines are completely voluntary here here, no mandates other than masks. The former Left leaning government, without doubt, would have followed Bidens’ Mandates.
    I doubt not that most Edhaters will disagree with the approach implemented here, and the concept of natural immunization in general. I ask only that people consider and observe what happens over time. We are SO glad to finally be living free of Covid Fear! It has been a long time coming!

  6. This op Ed is completely on the wrong track. Not keeping people locked up helped lead to a massive crime spike in the US. As per all the experts (and logic) we are all getting Covid… so if you want to recover from mild symptoms at home instead of in prison, go ahead and stop commit mating any crimes for a bit…

  7. Everyone is getting Covid… we all (should) know that. So get vaccinated to make it as mild as possible and get on with your life. And I guess yeah if that means committing crimes and being locked up for them… so be it! You were going to get it anyways!

  8. Oh, JB86… that is SO simplistic. If only… poverty and mental health and substance abuse causes people to do desperate things. So many of us are so privileged, sitting here from our computers, passing judgements on others. My brother tested into genius levels in school, had an unbelievable I.Q. So very smart, so very kind with a huge loving heart, yet he ended up in the system for the reasons I mention above. He finally died of an overdose. Heartbreaking for so many who loved him! He was abused severely in the system. So nice that you can sit above it.

  9. 11:40-No, I revealed my Uruguay location long ago. I never imagined that I would choose to leave SB, having always seen it as my “toes up” place. Traffic congestion, rampant growth and a City FROM HELL!!! (pardon), we sold and bailed to South America. Hard to leave family and friends, but health insurance alone cost us more than $20k per year. A form of slavery. I am grateful for my 37 years living in SB and specifically that I experienced SB before it became overcrowded.

  10. Many people have discounted natural immunity since the vaccines first became available. Despite a lack of data, bold claims were made suggesting natural immunity was virtually non-existent. Well, according to the cdc things have changed. Case rates are lower among those who survived an infection than among those who are vaccinated. The key takeaway from the link below is “During May–November 2021, case and hospitalization rates were highest among persons who were unvaccinated without a previous diagnosis. Before Delta became the predominant variant in June, case rates were higher among persons who survived a previous infection than persons who were vaccinated alone. By early October, persons who survived a previous infection had lower case rates than persons who were vaccinated alone.”

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