Outbreak of COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County Jail Rapidly Expanding

In Course of One Week, 39 More Incarcerated Individuals in Facility Test Positive

A view of the entrance to Santa Barbara's South County Jail. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss (file)

Between August 28 and September 4, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office announced 39 new cases of COVID-19 among the incarcerated population at the Santa Barbara County Jail. After several largely successful months of preventing an outbreak of the virus among the jail’s incarcerated population, that streak appears to be over, as cases continue to multiply rapidly inside the walls of the jail.

The Sheriff’s Office says that the outbreak likely originated with newly admitted individuals who completed a 14-day quarantine period before being admitted into the jail’s main population but were asymptomatic. Thus far, one individual has died of COVID-19 in the county jail, a 38-year-old Santa Maria resident named Eduardo Velazquez.

The first announcement came on August 28 and stated that 21 additional inmates had tested positive for COVID-19. On September 3, the Sheriff’s Office announced an additional nine cases, and then nine more the next day, for a total of 39 new cases over the course of just seven days. The total number of cases among the incarcerated population at the jail now stands at 81, up from just seven this time last month.

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