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The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department found three new positive cases of COVID-19 among custody deputies in the past four days. One civilian employee at the County Jail and one patrol deputy also tested positive. Over the last week, 22 staff at the County Jail tested positive for COVID-19, as the Sheriff’s Department worked to test all staff and inmates. All staff who tested positive are currently self-isolating at home, according to a press release.
One civilian staff member worked in Custody Records, where the Sheriff’s department suspects an earlier breakout among staff may have originated. The new case did not come into contact with any inmates while symptomatic, the Sheriff’s Office believed.
One custody deputy felt sick during his days off, but his test was misread by a contract medical worker at the jail as negative when it was in fact positive. Once he felt better, the individual worked two shifts at the Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) on guard duty, wearing an N95 mask, before the error was detected. The deputy was then sent home to self-isolate. COVID spread at the PHF unit has not yet been found.
Another custody deputy was on military leave since June 14 and began to self-isolate after falling ill in the past week. The third custody deputy was positive after testing began July 1. She’d had contact with inmates during a shift on June 30 and wore an N95 mask.
The fifth sheriff’s staff member to test positive, a patrol deputy, fell ill in late June and is self-isolating. Contact tracing indicates his exposure was not at work.
The release states testing is ongoing, and that 225 inmates have been tested so far. Four have tested positive, 114 have returned negative, with the rest pending results.