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On Monday evening, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department announced that two more deputies have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. One of the officers is a custody deputy at the Main Jail, and the other is a sheriff’s deputy. Both are self-isolating at home, and the press release states that no inmates at the county jail or additional sheriff’s employees have been asked to self-isolate as a result of interaction with either of the two deputies.
The custody deputy was last on duty at the jail on Thursday, March 26. After a member of the deputy’s family tested positive the following day, the rest of the family was tested and the deputy’s test came back positive on Sunday. The other deputy, who was last on patrol March 18, began experiencing symptoms and isolating the following day; after being tested on Thursday, March 26, the patrol deputy’s test results came back positive this Monday.
The Custody Deputy is the third employee at the county jail to test positive for COVID-19, raising alarm among some public officials and civil rights groups that are concerned that if the virus were to infect the inmate population, it could spread rapidly. Public Defender Tracy Macuga has called for the release of those in the jail who would be at high risk if they contracted the virus, such as the elderly and those with medical conditions, to the maximum degree compatible with public safety.
At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of this crisis — sorting truth from rumor. Our reporters and editors are asking the tough questions of our public health officials and spreading the word about how we can all help one another. The community needs us — now more than ever — and we need you in order to keep doing the important work we do. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.