Youth Housed in Santa Maria Juvenile Hall Tests Covid-19 Positive

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Source: Santa Barbara County Probation Department

Chief Probation Officer Tanja Heitman reported [Monday] that a youth housed in the Santa Barbara Probation Department’s Santa Maria Juvenile Hall (SMJH) tested positive for COVID-19.

The Probation Department has a comprehensive COVID-19 Management Plan that addresses this situation. All youth are tested for COVID-19 upon entry to the facility and placed in an Intake Unit where they are medically observed and monitored for 14 days. In this case, the positive youth was identified as part of the normal booking process and was tested upon entry. The youth was on medical status in the Intake Unit pending test results per procedure. As such, there was minimal potential exposure to staff and no contact with other youth from the time booked until the test results were received today. The youth has been transferred to a medical observation unit for monitoring and is currently asymptomatic.

All Probation and support staff assigned to the Intake and Medical Observation Units are required to wear full PPE (mask, goggles, gloves, and gown). Although the youth’s contacts were minimal, the Department is pursuing testing of the staff that interacted with the youth as a precaution and is coordinating contact tracing and testing with the Public Health Department.

The Probation Department remains focused on being responsive to the mental and physical well-being of youth, staff, and contractors during this challenging and stressful situation, and is taking steps to ensure their wellness. The Department is continuing to make decisions based on best practices in health and safety standards for the youth under their care, their officers, and the community. Everyone is encouraged to visit the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department website at for more information on COVID-19. For more information about the County of Santa Barbara Probation Department, go to

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