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KCBX News Update: Santa Barbara County Jail reports 17 COVID-positive inmates, winter weather batters Central Coast

The Santa Barbara County Jail is seeing an outbreak of COVID-19 among inmates.
The Santa Barbara County Jail is seeing an outbreak of COVID-19 among inmates.

Santa Barbara County Jail reports another COVID-19 outbreak with 17 inmates testing positive

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office is reporting another COVID-19 outbreak in the main county jail, with 17 inmates testing positive as of today.

Staff identified a COVID-positive inmate on Wednesday of last week in the male basement dormitory of the facility, where 51 inmates were being housed.

The COVID-positive inmate has since been rehoused and those in contact with him are being tracked and tested.

Public information officer Raquel Zick told KCBX News that it's difficult to track where the virus spread from, but that inmates do attend in-person court appearances which could be a possible source of spread.

“It’s a little difficult to say if it came from within our facility. Court is the only out-of-facility contact that they would have,” Zick said.

Zick said the Sheriff’s office is looking into lessening the amount of in-court appearances inmates have, but has not made a decision on that yet.

“Mostly what we’re concerned with is containing any additional spread of the virus through our facility,” Zick said.

No one has been hospitalized as a result of the outbreak.

Winter storm prompts evacuations, road closures along Central Coast

The winter storm currently battering the Central Coast has led to road closures and evacuations.

CalTrans announced Sunday that 45 miles of Highway 1 in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties are closed due to the rainstorm and may stay that way until midday Tuesday.

The closure is from the Big Sur Inn in Monterey County down to Ragged Point, south of the Monterey/San Luis Obispo County line.

Monterey County has issued an evacuation order for some areas downslope of the 2020 Dolan Fire burn scar area.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for that area, warning of potential debris flow and rockslides.

Further south in Santa Barbara County, another burn scar area is prompting warnings and evacuations.

Officials there have issued a flash flood watch including the burn scar of the Alisal Fire, which burned almost 17,000 acres earlier this year.

There is also an evacuation order in effect for the Alisal Fire burn scar area west of Las Flores Canyon, east of Mariposa Reina, south of West Camino Cielo, and down to the ocean.

More information on Santa Barbara County evacuations is available at readysbc.org.

Benjamin Purper was News Director of KCBX from May of 2021 to September of 2023. He came from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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