Coronavirus

Interim Guidance on Management of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Correctional and Detention Facilities

This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the transmission and severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as of the date of posting, October 7, 2020. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will update this guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available. Please check the CDC website periodically…

This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the transmission and severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as of the date of posting, October 7, 2020.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will update this guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available. Please check the CDC website periodically for updated interim guidance.

This document provides interim guidance specific for correctional facilities and detention centers during the outbreak of COVID-19, to ensure continuation of essential public services and protection of the health and safety of incarcerated and detained persons, staff, and visitors. Recommendations may need to be revised as more information becomes available.

A revision was made 10/21/2020 to reflect the following:

  • Updated language for the close contact definition.

A revision was made 10/7/2020 to reflect the following:

  • Updated criteria for releasing individuals with confirmed COVID-19 from medical isolation (symptom-based approach).
  • Added link to CDC Guidance for Performing Broad-Based Testing for SARS-CoV-2 in Congregate Settings
  • Reorganized information on Quarantine into 4 sections: Contact Tracing, Testing Close Contacts, Quarantine Practices, and Cohorted Quarantine for Multiple Close Contacts

A revision was made 7/14/20 to reflect the following:

  • Added testing and contact tracing considerations for incarcerated/detained persons (including testing newly incarcerated or detained persons at intake; testing close contacts of cases; repeated testing of persons in cohorts of quarantined close contacts; testing before release). Linked to more detailed Interim Considerations for SARS-CoV-2 Testing in Correctional and Detention Facilities.
  • Added recommendation to consider testing and a 14-day quarantine for individuals preparing for release or transfer to another facility.
  • Added recommendation that confirmed COVID-19 cases may be medically isolated as a cohort. (Suspected cases should be isolated individually.)
  • Reduced recommended frequency of symptom screening for quarantined individuals to once per day (from twice per day).
  • Added recommendation to ensure that PPE donning/doffing stations are set up directly outside spaces requiring PPE. Train staff to move from areas of lower to higher risk of exposure if they must re-use PPE due to shortages.
  • Added recommendation to organize staff assignments so that the same staff are assigned to the same areas of the facility over time, to reduce the risk of transmission through staff movements.
  • Added recommendation to suspend work release programs, especially those within other congregate settings, when there is a COVID-19 case in the correctional or detention facility.
  • Added recommendation to modify work details so that they only include incarcerated/detained persons from a single housing unit.
  • Added considerations for safely transporting individuals with COVID-19 or their close contacts.
  • Added considerations for release and re-entry planning in the context of COVID-19.

Intended Audience

This document is intended to provide guiding principles for healthcare and non-healthcare administrators of correctional and detention facilities (including but not limited to federal and state prisons, local jails, and detention centers), law enforcement agencies that have custodial authority for detained populations (i.e., U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Marshals Service), and their respective health departments, to assist in preparing for potential introduction, spread, and mitigation of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19) in their facilities. In general, the document uses terminology referring to correctional environments but can also be applied to civil and pre-trial detention settings.

This guidance will not necessarily address every possible custodial setting and may not use legal terminology specific to individual agencies’ authorities or processes.

The guidance may need to be adapted based on individual facilities’ physical space, staffing, population, operations, and other resources and conditions. Facilities should contact CDC or their state, local, territorial, and/or tribal public health department if they need assistance in applying these principles or addressing topics that are not specifically covered in this guidance.

This guidance will not necessarily address every possible custodial setting and may not use legal terminology specific to individual agencies’ authorities or processes.

The guidance may need to be adapted based on individual facilities’ physical space, staffing, population, operations, and other resources and conditions. Facilities should contact CDC or their state, local, territorial, and/or tribal public health department if they need assistance in applying these principles or addressing topics that are not specifically covered in this guidance.

Guidance Overview

The guidance below includes detailed recommendations on the following topics related to COVID-19 in correctional and detention settings:

check light icon Operational and communications preparations for COVID-19

check light icon Enhanced cleaning/disinfecting and hygiene practices

check light icon Social distancing strategies to increase space between individuals in the facility

check light icon Strategies to limit transmission from visitors

check light icon Infection control, including recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) and potential alternatives during PPE shortages

check light icon Verbal screening and temperature check protocols for incoming incarcerated/detained individuals, staff, and visitors

check light icon Testing considerations for SARS-CoV-2

check light icon Medical isolation of individuals with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 and quarantine of close contacts, including considerations for cohorting when individual spaces are limited

check light icon Healthcare evaluation for individuals with suspected COVID-19

check light icon Clinical care for individuals with confirmed and suspected COVID-19

check light icon Considerations for people who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19

Definitions of Commonly Used Terms

Close contact of someone with COVID-19 – Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

* Individual exposures added together over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). Data are limited, making it difficult to precisely define “close contact;” however, 15 cumulative minutes of exposure at a distance of 6 feet or less can be used as an operational definition for contact investigation. Factors to consider when defining close contact include proximity (closer distance likely increases exposure risk), the duration of exposure (longer exposure time likely increases exposure risk), whether the infected individual has symptoms (the period around onset of symptoms is associated with the highest levels of viral shedding), if the infected person was likely to generate respiratory aerosols (e.g., was coughing, singing, shouting), and other environmental factors (crowding, adequacy of ventilation, whether exposure was indoors or outdoors). Because the general public has not received training on proper selection and use of respiratory PPE, such as an N95, the determination of close contact should generally be made irrespective of whether the contact was wearing respiratory PPE.  At this time, differential determination of close contact for those using fabric face coverings is not recommended.

Cohorting – In this guidance, cohorting refers to the practice of isolating multiple individuals with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 together or quarantining close contacts of an infected person together as a group due to a limited number of individual cells. While cohorting those with confirmed COVID-19 is acceptable, cohorting individuals with suspected COVID-19 is not recommended due to high risk of transmission from infected to uninfected individuals. See Quarantine and Medical Isolation sections below for specific details about ways to implement cohorting as a harm reduction strategy to minimize the risk of disease spread and adverse health outcomes.

Community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 – Community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurs when individuals are exposed to the virus through contact with someone in their local community, rather than through travel to an affected location. When community transmission is occurring in a particular area, correctional facilities and detention centers are more likely to start seeing infections inside their walls. Facilities should consult with local public health departments if assistance is needed to determine how to define “local community” in the context of SARS-CoV-2 spread. However, because all states have reported cases, all facilities should be vigilant for introduction of the virus into their populations.

Confirmed vs. suspected COVID-19 – A person has confirmed COVID-19 when they have received a positive result from a COVID-19 viral test (antigen or PCR test) but they may or may not have symptoms. A person has suspected COVID-19 if they show symptoms of COVID-19 but either have not been tested via a viral test or are awaiting test results. If their test result is positive, suspected COVID-19 is reclassified as confirmed COVID-19.

Incarcerated/detained persons – For the purpose of this document, “incarcerated/detained persons” refers to persons held in a prison, jail, detention center, or other custodial setting. The term includes those who have been sentenced (i.e., in prisons) as well as those held for pre-trial (i.e., jails) or civil purposes (i.e., detention centers). Although this guidance does not specifically reference individuals in every type of custodial setting (e.g., juvenile facilities, community confinement facilities), facility administrators can adapt this guidance to apply to their specific circumstances as needed.

MasksMasks cover the nose and mouth and are intended to help prevent people who have the virus from transmitting it to others, even if they do not have symptoms. CDC recommends wearing cloth masks in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control. If everyone wears a mask in congregate settings, the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 can be reduced. Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, younger than 2 years of age or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should not wear a mask (for more details see How to Wear Masks).  CDC does not recommend use of masks for source control if they have an exhalation valve or vent). Individuals working under conditions that require PPE should not use a cloth mask when a surgical mask or N95 respirator is indicated (see Table 1). Surgical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for situations where the wearer needs PPE. Detailed recommendations for wearing a mask can be found here.

Medical isolation – Medical isolation refers to separating someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection to prevent their contact with others to reduce the risk of transmission. Medical isolation ends when the individual meets pre-established criteria for release from isolation, in consultation with clinical providers and public health officials. In this context, isolation does NOT refer to punitive isolation for behavioral infractions within the custodial setting. Staff are encouraged to use the term “medical isolation” to avoid confusion, and should ensure that the conditions in medical isolation spaces are distinct from those in punitive isolation.

Quarantine – Quarantine refers to the practice of separating individuals who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 to determine whether they develop symptoms or test positive for the disease. Quarantine reduces the risk of transmission if an individual is later found to have COVID-19. Quarantine for COVID-19 should last for 14 days after the exposure has ended. Ideally, each quarantined individual should be housed in a single cell with solid walls and a solid door that closes. If symptoms develop during the 14-day period, and/or a quarantined individual receives a positive viral test result for SARS-CoV-2, the individual should be placed under medical isolation and evaluated by a healthcare professional. If symptoms do not develop during the 14-day period and the individual does not receive a positive viral test result for SARS-CoV-2, quarantine restrictions can be lifted. (NOTE: Some facilities may also choose to implement a “routine intake quarantine,” in which individuals newly incarcerated/detained are housed separately or as a group for 14 days before being integrated into general housing. This type of quarantine is conducted to prevent introduction of SARS-CoV-2 from incoming individuals whose exposure status is unknown, rather than in response to a known exposure to someone infected with SARS-CoV-2.)

Social distancing – Social distancing is the practice of increasing the space between individuals and decreasing their frequency of contact to reduce the risk of spreading a disease (ideally to maintain at least 6 feet between all individuals, even those who are asymptomatic). Social distancing strategies can be applied on an individual level (e.g., avoiding physical contact), a group level (e.g., canceling group activities where individuals would be in close contact), and an operational level (e.g., rearranging chairs in the dining hall to increase distance between them). Social distancing can be challenging to practice in correctional and detention environments; examples of potential social distancing strategies for correctional and detention facilities are detailed in the guidance below. Social distancing is vital for the prevention of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19, especially because people who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 but do not have symptoms can still spread the infection. Additional information about social distancing, including information on its use to reduce the spread of other viral illnesses, is available in this CDC publication pdf icon[900 KB, 36 pages].

Staff – In this document, “staff” refers to all public or private-sector employees (e.g., contracted healthcare or food service workers) working within a correctional facility. Except where noted, “staff” does not distinguish between healthcare, custody, and other types of staff, including private facility operators.

Symptoms –  Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. This list is not exhaustive. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including nausea and vomiting. Like other respiratory infections, COVID-19 can vary in severity from mild to severe, and pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death are possible. COVID-19 is a novel disease, therefore the full range of signs and symptoms, the clinical course of the disease, and the individuals and populations at increased risk for severe illness are not yet fully understood. Monitor the CDC website for updates on symptoms.

Facilities with Limited Onsite Healthcare Services

Although many large facilities such as prisons and some jails employ onsite healthcare staff and have the capacity to evaluate incarcerated/detained persons for potential illness within a dedicated healthcare space, many smaller facilities do not. Some of these facilities have access to on-call healthcare staff or providers who visit the facility every few days. Others have neither onsite healthcare capacity nor onsite medical isolation/quarantine space and must transfer ill patients to other correctional or detention facilities or local hospitals for evaluation and care.

The majority of the guidance below is designed to be applied to any correctional or detention facility, either as written or with modifications based on a facility’s individual structure and resources. However, topics related to healthcare evaluation and clinical care of persons with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 infection and their close contacts may not apply directly to facilities with limited or no onsite healthcare services. It will be especially important for these types of facilities to coordinate closely with their state, local, tribal, and/or territorial health department when they identify incarcerated/detained persons or staff with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, in order to ensure effective medical isolation and quarantine, necessary medical evaluation and care, and medical transfer if needed. The guidance makes note of strategies tailored to facilities without onsite healthcare where possible.

Note that all staff in any sized facility, regardless of the presence of onsite healthcare services, should observe guidance on recommended PPE in order to ensure their own safety when interacting with persons with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 Guidance for Correctional Facilities

Guidance for correctional and detention facilities is organized into 3 sections: Operational Preparedness, Prevention, and Management of COVID-19. Recommendations across these sections should be applied simultaneously based on the progress of the outbreak in a particular facility and the surrounding community.

  • Operational Preparedness. This guidance is intended to help facilities prepare for potential SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the facility. Strategies focus on operational and communications planning, training, and personnel practices.
  • Prevention. This guidance is intended to help facilities prevent spread of SARS-CoV-2 within the facility and between the community and the facility. Strategies focus on reinforcing hygiene practices; intensifying cleaning and disinfection of the facility; regular symptom screening for new intakes, visitors, and staff; continued communication with incarcerated/detained persons and staff; social distancing measures; as well as testing symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals in correctional and detention facilities. Refer to the Interim Guidance on Testing for SARS-CoV-2 in Correctional and Detention Facilities for additional considerations regarding testing in correctional and detention settings.
  • Management. This guidance is intended to help facilities clinically manage persons with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 inside the facility and prevent further transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Strategies include medical isolation and care of incarcerated/detained persons with COVID-19 (including considerations for cohorting), quarantine and testing of close contacts, restricting movement in and out of the facility, infection control practices for interactions with persons with COVID-19 and their quarantined close contacts or contaminated items, intensified social distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting areas where infected persons spend time.

Operational Preparedness

Administrators can plan and prepare for COVID-19 by ensuring that all persons in the facility know the symptoms of COVID-19 and the importance of reporting those symptoms if they develop. Other essential actions include developing contingency plans for reduced workforces due to absences, coordinating with public health and correctional partners, training staff on proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) that may be needed in the course of their duties, and communicating clearly with staff and incarcerated/detained persons about these preparations and how they may temporarily alter daily life.

Communication and Coordination

check light icon Develop information-sharing systems with partners.

    • Identify points of contact in relevant state, local, tribal, and/or territorial public health departments before SARS-CoV-2 infections develop. Actively engage with the health department to understand in advance which entity has jurisdiction to implement public health control measures for COVID-19 in a particular correctional or detention facility.
    • Create and test communications plans to disseminate critical information to incarcerated/detained persons, staff, contractors, vendors, and visitors as the pandemic progresses.
    • Communicate with other correctional facilities in the same geographic area to share information including disease surveillance and absenteeism patterns among staff.
    • Where possible, put plans in place with other jurisdictions to prevent individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 and their close contacts from being transferred between jurisdictions and facilities unless necessary for medical evaluation, medical isolation/quarantine, clinical care, extenuating security concerns, release, or to prevent overcrowding.
    • Stay informed about updates to CDC guidance via the CDC COVID-19 website as more information becomes known.

check light icon Review existing influenza, all-hazards, and disaster plans, and revise for COVID-19.

    • Train staff on the facility’s COVID-19 plan. All personnel should have a basic understanding of COVID-19, how the disease is thought to spread, what the symptoms of the disease are, and what measures are being implemented and can be taken by individuals to prevent or minimize the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
    • Ensure that separate physical locations (dedicated housing areas and bathrooms) have been identified to 1) isolate individuals with confirmed COVID-19 (individually or cohorted), 2) isolate individuals with suspected COVID-19 (individually – do not cohort), and 3) quarantine close contacts of those with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 (ideally individually; cohorted if necessary). The plan should include contingencies for multiple locations if numerous infected individuals and/or close contacts are identified and require medical isolation or quarantine simultaneously. See Medical Isolation and Quarantine sections below for more detailed cohorting considerations.
    • Facilities without onsite healthcare capacity should make a plan for how they will ensure that individuals with suspected COVID-19 will be isolated, evaluated, tested, and provided necessary medical care.
    • Make a list of possible social distancing strategies that could be implemented as needed at different stages of transmission intensity.
    • Designate officials who will be authorized to make decisions about escalating or de-escalating response efforts as the disease transmission patterns change.

check light icon Coordinate with local law enforcement and court officials.

    • Identify legally acceptable alternatives to in-person court appearances, such as virtual court, as a social distancing measure to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2
    • Consider options to prevent overcrowding (e.g., diverting new intakes to other facilities with available capacity, and encouraging alternatives to incarceration and other decompression strategies where allowable).

check light icon Encourage all persons in the facility to take the following actions to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Post signs throughout the facility and communicate this information verbally on a regular basis. Sample signage and other communications materials are available on the CDC website. Ensure that materials can be understood by non-English speakers and those with low literacy, and make necessary accommodations for those with cognitive or intellectual disabilities and those who are deaf, blind, or have low-vision.

    • For all:
      • Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette: Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow (or ideally with a tissue) rather than with your hand when you cough or sneeze, and throw all tissues in the trash immediately after use.
      • Practice good hand hygiene: Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose; after using the bathroom; before eating; before and after preparing food; before taking medication; and after touching garbage.
      • Wear masks, unless PPE is indicated.
      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth without cleaning your hands first.
      • Avoid sharing eating utensils, dishes, and cups.
      • Avoid non-essential physical contact.
    • For incarcerated/detained persons:
    • For staff:
      • Stay at home when sick
      • If symptoms develop while on duty, leave the facility as soon as possible and follow CDC-recommended steps for persons who are ill with COVID-19 symptoms including self-isolating at home, contacting a healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine whether evaluation or testing is needed, and contacting a supervisor.

Personnel Practices

check light icon Review the sick leave policies of each employer that operates within the facility.

    • Review policies to ensure that they are flexible, non-punitive, and actively encourage staff not to report to work when sick.
    • Determine which officials will have the authority to send symptomatic staff home.

check light icon Identify duties that can be performed remotely. Where possible, allowing staff to work from home can be an effective social distancing strategy to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2

check light icon Plan for staff absences. Staff should stay home when they are sick, or they may need to stay home to care for a sick household member or care for children in the event of school and childcare dismissals.

    • Identify critical job functions and plan for alternative coverage.
    • Determine minimum levels of staff in all categories required for the facility to function safely. If possible, develop a plan to secure additional staff if absenteeism due to COVID-19 threatens to bring staffing to minimum levels.
    • Review CDC guidance on safety practices for critical infrastructure workers (including correctional officers, law enforcement officers, and healthcare workers) who continue to work after a potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
    • Consider increasing keep on person (KOP) medication orders to cover 30 days in case of healthcare staff shortages.

check light icon Consider offering revised duties to staff who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Persons at increased risk may include older adults and persons of any age with serious underlying medical conditions including lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, severe obesity, and diabetes. See CDC’s website for a complete list and check regularly for updates as more data become available.

    • Consult with occupational health providers to determine whether it would be allowable to reassign duties for specific staff members to reduce their likelihood of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

check light icon  Make plans in advance for how to change staff duty assignments to prevent unnecessary movement between housing units during a COVID-19

    • If there are people with COVID-19 inside the facility, it is essential for staff members to maintain a consistent duty assignment in the same area of the facility across shifts to prevent transmission across different facility areas.
    • Where feasible, consider the use of telemedicine to evaluate persons with COVID-19 symptoms and other health conditions to limit the movement of healthcare staff across housing units.

check light icon  Offer the seasonal influenza vaccine to all incarcerated/detained persons (existing population and new intakes) and staff throughout the influenza season. Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of influenza. Preventing influenza in a facility can speed the detection of COVID-19 and reduce pressure on healthcare resources.

check light icon   Reference the Occupational Safety and Health Administration websiteexternal icon for recommendations regarding worker health.

check light icon   Review CDC’s guidance for businesses and employers to identify any additional strategies the facility can use within its role as an employer, or share with others.

Operations, Supplies, and PPE Preparations

check light icon Ensure that sufficient stocks of hygiene supplies, cleaning supplies, PPE, and medical supplies (consistent with the healthcare capabilities of the facility) are on hand and available and have a plan in place to restock as needed.

    • Standard medical supplies for daily clinic needs
    • Tissues
    • Liquid or foam soap when possible. If bar soap must be used, ensure that it does not irritate the skin and thereby discourage frequent hand washing. Ensure a sufficient supply of soap for each individual.
    • Hand drying supplies, such as paper towels or hand dryers
    • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol (where permissible based on security restrictions)
    • Cleaning supplies, including EPA-registered disinfectants effective against SARS-CoV-2external icon, the virus that causes COVID-19
    • Recommended PPE (surgical masks, N95 respirators, eye protection, disposable medical gloves, and disposable gowns/one-piece coveralls). See PPE section and Table 1 for more detailed information, including recommendations for extending the life of all PPE categories in the event of shortages, and when surgical masks are acceptable alternatives to N95s. Visit CDC’s website for a calculator to help determine rate of PPE usage.
    • Cloth face masks for source control
    • SARS-CoV-2 specimen collection and testing supplies

check light icon Make contingency plans for possible PPE shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for non-healthcare workers.

check light icon Consider relaxing restrictions on allowing alcohol-based hand sanitizer in the secure setting, where security concerns allow. If soap and water are not available, CDC recommends cleaning hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Consider allowing staff to carry individual-sized bottles for their personal hand hygiene while on duty, and place dispensers at facility entrances/exits and in PPE donning/doffing stations.

check light icon Provide a no-cost supply of soap to incarcerated/detained persons, sufficient to allow frequent hand washing. (See Hygiene section below for additional detail regarding recommended frequency and protocol for hand washing.)

    • Provide liquid or foam soap where possible. If bar soap must be used, ensure that it does not irritate the skin and thereby discourage frequent hand washing, and ensure that individuals do not share bars of soap.

check light icon If not already in place, employers operating within the facility should establish a respiratory protection program as appropriate, to ensure that staff and incarcerated/detained persons are fit-tested for any respiratory protection they will need within the scope of their responsibilities.

check light icon Ensure that staff and incarcerated/detained persons are trained to correctly don, doff, and dispose of PPE that they will need to use within the scope of their responsibilities.

check light icon Prepare to set up designated PPE donning and doffing areas outside all spaces where PPE will be used. These spaces should include:

    • A dedicated trash can for disposal of used PPE
    • A hand washing station or access to alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    • A poster demonstrating correct PPE donning and doffing procedures

check light icon Review CDC and EPA guidance for cleaning and disinfecting of the facility.

Prevention

Cases of COVID-19 have been documented in all 50 US states. Correctional and detention facilities can prevent introduction of SARS-CoV-2 and reduce transmission if it is already inside by reinforcing good hygiene practices among incarcerated/detained persons, staff, and visitors (including increasing access to soap and paper towels), intensifying cleaning/disinfection practices, and implementing social distancing strategies.

Because many individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 do not display symptoms, the virus could be present in facilities before infections are identified. Good hygiene practices, vigilant symptom screening, wearing cloth face masks (if not contraindicated), and social distancing are critical in preventing further transmission.

Testing symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals and initiating medical isolation for suspected and confirmed cases and quarantine for close contacts, can help prevent spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Operations

check light icon Stay in communication with partners about your facility’s current situation.

    • State, local, territorial, and/or tribal health departments
    • Other correctional facilities

check light icon Communicate with the public about any changes to facility operations, including visitation programs.

check light icon Limit transfers of incarcerated/detained persons to and from other jurisdictions and facilities unless necessary for medical evaluation, medical isolation/quarantine, clinical care, extenuating security concerns, release, or to prevent overcrowding.

    • If a transfer is absolutely necessary:
      • Perform verbal screening and a temperature check as outlined in the Screening section below, before the individual leaves the facility. If an individual does not clear the screening process, delay the transfer and follow the protocol for suspected COVID-19 infection – including giving the individual a cloth face mask (unless contraindicated), if not already wearing one, immediately placing them under medical isolation, and evaluating them for SARS-CoV-2
      • Ensure that the receiving facility has capacity to properly quarantine or isolate the individual upon arrival.
      • See Transportation section below on precautions to use when transporting an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

check light iconMake every possible effort to modify staff assignments to minimize movement across housing units and other areas of the facility. For example, ensure that the same staff are assigned to the same housing unit across shifts to prevent cross-contamination from units where infected individuals have been identified to units with no infections.

check light icon Consider suspending work release and other programs that involve movement of incarcerated/detained individuals in and out of the facility, especially if the work release assignment is in another congregate setting, such as a food processing plant.

check light icon Implement lawful alternatives to in-person court appearances where permissible.

check light icon Where relevant, consider suspending co-pays for incarcerated/detained persons seeking medical evaluation for possible COVID-19 symptoms, to remove possible barriers to symptom reporting.

check light icon Limit the number of operational entrances and exits to the facility.

check light icon Where feasible, consider establishing an on-site laundry option for staff so that they can change out of their uniforms, launder them at the facility, and wear street clothes and shoes home. If on-site laundry for staff is not feasible, encourage them to change clothes before they leave the work site, and provide a location for them to do so. This practice may help minimize the risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 between the facility and the community.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Practices

check light icon Even if COVID-19 has not yet been identified inside the facility or in the surrounding community, implement intensified cleaning and disinfecting procedures according to the recommendations below. These measures can help prevent spread of SARS-CoV-2 if introduced, and if already present through asymptomatic infections.

check light icon Adhere to CDC recommendations for cleaning and disinfection during the COVID-19 response. Monitor these recommendations for updates.

    • Visit the CDC website for a tool to help implement cleaning and disinfection.
    • Several times per day, clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched, especially in common areas. Such surfaces may include objects/surfaces not ordinarily cleaned daily (e.g., doorknobs, light switches, sink handles, countertops, toilets, toilet handles, recreation equipment, kiosks, telephones, and computer equipment).
    • Staff should clean shared equipment (e.g., radios, service weapons, keys, handcuffs) several times per day and when the use of the equipment has concluded.
    • Use household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19external icon as appropriate for the surface.
    • Follow label instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product, including precautions that should be taken when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure there is good ventilation during use, and around people. Clean according to label instructions to ensure safe and effective use, appropriate product dilution, and contact time. Facilities may consider lifting restrictions on undiluted disinfectants (i.e., requiring the use of undiluted product), if applicable.

check light icon Consider increasing the number of staff and/or incarcerated/detained persons trained and responsible for cleaning common areas to ensure continual cleaning of these areas throughout the day.

check light icon Ensure adequate supplies to support intensified cleaning and disinfection practices, and have a plan in place to restock rapidly if needed.

Hygiene

check light icon Encourage all staff and incarcerated/detained persons to wear a cloth face mask as much as safely possible, to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through respiratory droplets that are created when a person talks, coughs, or sneezes (“source control”).

    • Provide masks at no cost to incarcerated/detained individuals and launder them routinely.
    • Clearly explain the purpose of masks and when their use may be contraindicated. Because many individuals with COVID-19 do not have symptoms, it is important for everyone to wear masks in order to protect each other: “My mask protects you, your mask protects me.”
    • Ensure staff know that cloth masks should not be used as a substitute for surgical masks or N95 respirators that may be required based on an individual’s scope of duties. Cloth masks are not PPE but are worn to protect others in the surrounding area from respiratory droplets generated by the wearer.
    • Surgical masks may also be used as source control but should be conserved for situations requiring PPE.

check light icon Reinforce healthy hygiene practices, and provide and continually restock hygiene supplies throughout the facility, including in bathrooms, food preparation and dining areas, intake areas, visitor entries and exits, visitation rooms and waiting rooms, common areas, medical, and staff-restricted areas (e.g., break rooms).

check light icon Provide incarcerated/detained persons and staff no-cost access to:

    • Soap – Provide liquid or foam soap where possible. If bar soap must be used, ensure that it does not irritate the skin, as this would discourage frequent hand washing, and ensure that individuals are not sharing bars of soap.
    • Running water, and hand drying machines or disposable paper towels for hand washing
    • Tissues and (where possible) no-touch trash receptacles for disposal
    • Face masks

check light icon Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol where permissible based on security restrictions. Consider allowing staff to carry individual-sized bottles to maintain hand hygiene.

check light icon Communicate that sharing drugs and drug preparation equipment can spread SARS-CoV-2 due to potential contamination of shared items and close contact between individuals.

Testing for SARS-CoV-2

Correctional and detention facilities are high-density congregate settings that present unique challenges to implementing testing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Refer to Testing guidance for details regarding testing strategies in correctional and detention settings.

Prevention Practices for Incarcerated/Detained Persons

check light icon Provide cloth face masks (unless contraindicated) and perform pre-intake symptom screening and temperature checks for all new entrants in order to identify and immediately place individuals with symptoms under medical isolation. Screening should take place in an outdoor space prior to entry, in the sally port, or at the point of entry into the facility immediately upon entry, before beginning the intake process. See Screening section below for the wording of screening questions and a recommended procedure to safely perform a temperature check. Staff performing temperature checks should wear recommended PPE (see PPE section below).

    • If an individual has symptoms of COVID-19:
      • Require the individual to wear a mask (as much as possible, use cloth masks in order to reserve surgical masks for situations requiring PPE). Anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should not wear a mask.
      • Ensure that staff who have direct contact with the symptomatic individual wear recommended PPE.
      • Place the individual under medical isolation and refer to healthcare staff for further evaluation. (See Infection Control and Clinical Care sections below.)
      • Facilities without onsite healthcare staff should contact their state, local, tribal, and/or territorial health department to coordinate effective medical isolation and necessary medical care. See Transport section and coordinate with the receiving facility.
    • If an individual is an asymptomatic close contact of someone with COVID-19:
      • Quarantine the individual and monitor for symptoms at least once per day for 14 days. (See Quarantine section below.)
      • Facilities without onsite healthcare staff should contact their state, local, tribal, and/or territorial health department to coordinate effective quarantine and necessary medical care. See Transport section and coordinate with the receiving facility.

check light icon Consider strategies for testing asymptomatic incarcerated/detained persons without known SARS-CoV-2 exposure for early identification of SARS-CoV-2 in the facility. 

Implement social distancing strategies to increase the physical space between incarcerated/detained persons (ideally 6 feet between all individuals, regardless of symptoms), and to minimize mixing of individuals from different housing units. Strategies will need to be tailored to the individual space in the facility and the needs of the population and staff. Not all strategies will be feasible in all facilities. Example strategies with varying levels of intensity include:

    • Common areas:
      • Enforce increased space between individuals in holding cells as well as in lines and waiting areas such as intake (e.g., remove every other chair in a waiting area).
    • Recreation:
      • Choose recreation spaces where individuals can spread out
      • Stagger time in recreation spaces (clean and disinfect between groups).
      • Restrict recreation space usage to a single housing unit per space
        (where feasible).
    • Meals:
      • Stagger meals in the dining hall (one housing unit at a time; clean and disinfect between groups).
      • Rearrange seating in the dining hall so that there is more space between individuals (e.g., remove every other chair and use only one side of the table).
      • Provide meals inside housing units or cells.
    • Group activities:
      • Limit the size of group activities.
      • Increase space between individuals during group activities.
      • Suspend group programs where participants are likely to be in closer contact than they are in their housing environment.
      • Consider alternatives to existing group activities, in outdoor areas or other areas where individuals can spread out.
    • Housing:
      • If space allows, reassign bunks to provide more space between individuals, ideally 6 feet or more in all directions. (Ensure that bunks are cleaned thoroughly if assigned to a new occupant.)
      • Arrange bunks so that individuals sleep head to foot to increase the distance between their faces.
      • Minimize the number of individuals housed in the same room as much as possible.
      • Rearrange scheduled movements to minimize mixing of individuals from different housing areas.
    • Work details:
      • Modify work detail assignments so that each detail includes only individuals from a single housing unit.
    • Medical:
      • If possible, designate a room near each housing unit to evaluate individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, rather than having them walk through the facility to be evaluated in the medical unit. If this is not feasible, consider staggering individuals’ sick call visits.
      • Stagger pill line, or stage pill line within individual housing units.
      • Identify opportunities to implement telemedicine to minimize the movement of healthcare staff across multiple housing units and to minimize the movement of ill individuals through the facility.
      • Designate a room near the intake area to evaluate new entrants who are flagged by the intake symptom screening process before they move to other parts of the facility.

check light icon Note that if group activities are discontinued, it will be important to identify alternative forms of activity to support the mental health of incarcerated/detained persons.

check light icon Provide up-to-date information about COVID-19 to incarcerated/detained persons on a regular basis. As much as possible, provide this information in person and allow opportunities for incarcerated/detained individuals to ask questions (e.g., town hall format if social distancing is feasible, or informal peer-to-peer education). Updates should address:

    • Symptoms of COVID-19 and its health risks
    • Reminders to report COVID-19 symptoms to staff at the first sign of illness
      • Address concerns related to reporting symptoms (e.g., being sent to medical isolation), explain the need to report symptoms immediately to protect everyone, and explain the differences between medical isolation and solitary confinement.
    • Reminders to use masks as much as possible
    • Changes to the daily routine and how they can contribute to risk reduction

Prevention Practices for Staff

check light icon When feasible and consistent with security priorities, encourage staff to maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from an individual with COVID-19 symptoms while interviewing, escorting, or interacting in other ways, and to wear recommended PPE if closer contact is necessary.

check light icon Ask staff to keep interactions with individuals with COVID-19 symptoms as brief as possible.

check light icon Remind staff to stay at home if they are sick.Ensure staff are aware that they will not be able to enter the facility if they have symptoms of COVID-19, and that they will be expected to leave the facility as soon as possible if they develop symptoms while on duty.

check light icon Consider strategies for testing asymptomatic staff without known SARS-CoV-2 exposure for early identification of SARS-CoV-2 in the facility.

check light icon Perform verbal screening and temperature checks for all staff daily on entry. See Screening section below for wording of screening questions and a recommended procedure to safely perform temperature checks.

check light icon Provide staff with up-to-date information about COVID-19 and about facility policies on a regular basis, including:

check light icon If staff develop a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 while at work, they should immediately put on a mask (if not already wearing one), inform their supervisor, leave the facility, and follow CDC-recommended steps for persons who are ill with COVID-19 symptoms.

check light icon Staff identified as close contacts of someone with COVID-19 should self-quarantine at home for 14 days, unless a shortage of critical staff precludes quarantine.

    • Staff identified as close contacts should self-monitor for symptoms and seek testing.
    • Refer to CDC guidelines for further recommendations regarding home quarantine.
    • To ensure continuity of operations, critical infrastructure workers (including corrections officers, law enforcement officers, and healthcare staff) may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 , provided that they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and others.
      • Screening: The facility should ensure that temperature and symptom screening takes place daily before the staff member enters the facility.
      • Regular Monitoring: The staff member should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program. If symptoms develop, they should follow CDC guidance on isolation with COVID-19 symptoms.
      • Wear a Mask: The staff member should wear a mask (unless contraindicated) at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after the last exposure (if not already wearing one due to universal use of masks).
      • Social Distance: The staff member should maintain 6 feet between themselves and others and practice social distancing as work duties permit.
      • Disinfect and Clean Workspaces: The facility should continue enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices in all areas including offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared equipment.

check light icon Staff with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should inform workplace and personal contacts immediately. These staff should be required to meet CDC criteria for ending home isolation before returning to work. Monitor CDC guidance on discontinuing home isolation regularly, as circumstances evolve rapidly.

Prevention Practices for Visitors

check light icon Restrict non-essential vendors, volunteers, and tours from entering the facility.

check light icon If possible, communicate with potential visitors to discourage contact visits in the interest of their own health and the health of their family members and friends inside the facility. 

check light icon Require visitors to wear masks (unless contraindicated), and perform verbal screening and temperature checks for all visitors and volunteers on entry. See Screening section below for wording of screening questions and a recommended procedure to safely perform temperature checks.

    • Staff performing temperature checks should wear recommended PPE.
    • Exclude visitors and volunteers who do not clear the screening process or who decline screening. 

check light icon Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol in visitor entrances, exits, and waiting areas. 

check light icon Provide visitors and volunteers with information to prepare them for screening.

    • Instruct visitors to postpone their visit if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
    • If possible, inform potential visitors and volunteers before they travel to the facility that they should expect to be screened for COVID-19 (including a temperature check), and will be unable to enter the facility if they do not clear the screening process or if they decline screening.
    • Display signage outside visiting areas explaining the COVID-19 symptom screening and temperature check process. Ensure that materials are understandable for non-English speakers and those with low literacy.

check light icon Promote non-contact visits:

    • Encourage incarcerated/detained persons to limit in-person visits in the interest of their own health and the health of their visitors.
    • Consider reducing or temporarily eliminating the cost of phone calls for incarcerated/detained persons.
    • Consider increasing incarcerated/detained persons’ telephone privileges to promote mental health and reduce exposure from direct contact with community visitors.

check light icon Consider suspending or modifying visitation programs, if legally permissible. For example, provide access to virtual visitation options where available.

    • If moving to virtual visitation, clean electronic surfaces regularly after each use. (See Cleaning guidance below for instructions on cleaning electronic surfaces.)
    • Inform potential visitors of changes to, or suspension of, visitation programs.
    • Clearly communicate any visitation program changes to incarcerated/detained persons, along with the reasons for them (including protecting their health and their family and community members’ health).
    • If suspending contact visits, provide alternate means (e.g., phone or video visitation) for incarcerated/detained individuals to engage with legal representatives, clergy, and other individuals with whom they have legal right to consult.

NOTE: Suspending visitation should only be done in the interest of incarcerated/detained persons’ physical health and the health of the general public. Visitation is important to maintain mental health. If visitation is suspended, facilities should explore alternative ways for incarcerated/detained persons to communicate with their families, friends, and other visitors in a way that is not financially burdensome for them.

Management

If there is an individual with suspected COVID-19 inside the facility (among incarcerated/detained persons, staff, or visitors who have recently been inside), begin implementing Management strategies while test results are pending. Essential Management strategies include placing individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19  under medical isolation, quarantining their close contacts, and facilitating necessary medical care, while observing relevant infection control and environmental disinfection protocols and wearing recommended PPE.

Testing symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals (incarcerated or detained individuals and staff) and initiating medical isolation for suspected and confirmed cases and quarantine for close contacts, can help prevent spread of SARS-CoV-2 in correctional and detention facilities. Continue following recommendations outlined in the Preparedness and Prevention sections above.

Operations

check light icon Coordinate with state, local, tribal, and/or territorial health departments. When an individual has suspected or confirmed COVID-19, notify public health authorities and request any necessary assistance with medical isolation, evaluation, and clinical care, and contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts. See Medical Isolation, Quarantine and Clinical Care sections below. 

check light icon  Implement alternate work arrangements deemed feasible in the Operational Preparedness section.

check light icon Suspend all transfers of incarcerated/detained persons to and from other jurisdictions and facilities (including work release), unless necessary for medical evaluation, medical isolation/quarantine, health care, extenuating security concerns, release, or to prevent overcrowding.

check light icon Set up PPE donning/doffing stations as described in the Preparation section.

check light icon If possible, consider quarantining all new intakes for 14 days before they enter the facility’s general population (separately from other individuals who are quarantined due to contact with someone who has COVID-19). This practice is referred to as routine intake quarantine. 

check light icon Consider testing all newly incarcerated/detained persons before they join the rest of the population in the correctional or detention facility. 

check light icon Minimize interactions between incarcerated/detained persons living in different housing units, to prevent transmission from one unit to another. For example, stagger mealtimes and recreation times, and consider implementing broad movement restrictions. 

check light icon Ensure that work details include only incarcerated/detained persons from a single housing unit, supervised by staff who are normally assigned to the same housing unit.

    • If a work detail provides goods or services for other housing units (e.g., food service or laundry), ensure that deliveries are made with extreme caution. For example, have a staff member from the work detail deliver prepared food to a set location, leave, and have a staff member from the delivery location pick it up. Clean and disinfect all coolers, carts, and other objects involved in the delivery.

check light icon Incorporate COVID-19 prevention practices into release planning.

    • Consider implementing a release quarantine (ideally in single cells) for 14 days prior to individuals’ projected release date.
    • Consider testing individuals for SARS-CoV-2 before release, particularly if they will be released to a congregate setting or to a household with persons at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
    • Screen all releasing individuals for COVID-19 symptoms and perform a temperature check (see Screening section below.)
      • If an individual does not clear the screening process, follow the protocol for suspected COVID-19 – including giving the individual a mask, if not already wearing one, immediately placing them under medical isolation, and evaluating them for SARS-CoV-2 testing.
      • If the individual is released from the facility before the recommended medical isolation period is complete, discuss release of the individual with state, local, tribal, and/or territorial health departments to ensure safe medical transport and continued shelter and medical care, as part of release planning. Make direct linkages to community resources to ensure proper medical isolation and access to medical care.
      • Before releasing an incarcerated/detained individual who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19, or who is a close contact of someone with COVID-19, contact local public health officials to ensure they are aware of the individual’s release and anticipated location. If the individual will be released to a community-based facility, such as a homeless shelter, contact the facility’s staff to ensure adequate time for them to prepare to continue medical isolation or quarantine as needed. 

check light icon Incorporate COVID-19 prevention practices into re-entry programming.

    • Ensure that facility re-entry programs include information on accessing housing, social services, mental health services, and medical care within the context of social distancing restrictions and limited community business operations related to COVID-19.
      • Provide individuals about to be released with COVID-19 prevention information, hand hygiene supplies, and masks.
      • Link individuals who need medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder to substance use, harm reduction, and/or recovery support systemsexternal icon. If the surrounding community is under movement restrictions due to COVID-19, ensure that referrals direct releasing individuals to programs that are continuing operations.
      • Link releasing individuals to Medicaid enrollment and healthcare resourcesexternal icon, including continuity of care for chronic conditions that may place an individual at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
      • When possible, encourage releasing individuals to seek housing options among their family or friends in the community, to prevent crowding in other congregate settings such as homeless shelters. When linking individuals to shared housing, link preferentially to accommodations with the greatest capacity for social distancing.

Hygiene

check light icon Continue to ensure that hand hygiene supplies are well-stocked in all areas of the facility (see above).

check light icon Continue to emphasize practicing good hand hygiene and cough etiquette (see above).

Cleaning and Disinfecting Practices

check light icon Continue adhering to recommended cleaning and disinfection procedures for the facility at large (see above). 

check light icon Reference specific cleaning and disinfection procedures for areas where individuals with COVID-19 spend time (see below).

Management of Incarcerated/Detained Persons with COVID-19 Symptoms

NOTE: Some recommendations below apply primarily to facilities with onsite healthcare capacity. Facilities without onsite healthcare capacity or without sufficient space for medical isolation should coordinate with local public health officials to ensure that individuals with suspected COVID-19 will be effectively isolated, evaluated, tested (if indicated), and given care.

check light icon Staff interacting with incarcerated/detained individuals with COVID-19 symptoms should wear recommended PPE (see Table 1). 

check light icon If possible, designate a room near each housing unit for healthcare staff to evaluate individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, rather than having symptomatic individuals walk through the facility to be evaluated in the medical unit.

check light icon Incarcerated/detained individuals with COVID-19 symptoms should wear a mask (if not already wearing one, and unless contraindicated) and should be placed under medical isolation immediately. See Medical Isolation section below.

check light icon Medical staff should evaluate symptomatic individuals to determine whether SARS-CoV-2 testing is indicated. Refer to CDC guidelines for information on evaluation and testing. See Infection Control and Clinical Care sections below as well. Incarcerated/detained persons with symptoms are included in the high-priority group for testing in CDC’s recommendations due to the high risk of transmission within congregate settings.

    • If the individual’s SARS-CoV-2 test is positive, continue medical isolation. (See Medical Isolation section below.)
    • If the SARS-CoV-2 test is negative, the individual can be returned to their prior housing assignment unless they require further medical assessment or care or if they need to be quarantined as a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

check light icon Work with public health or private labs, as available, to access testing supplies or services.

Medical Isolation of Individuals with Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19

NOTE: Some recommendations below apply primarily to facilities with onsite healthcare capacity. Facilities without onsite healthcare capacity, or without sufficient space to implement effective medical isolation, should coordinate with local public health officials to ensure that individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 will be appropriately isolated, evaluated, tested, and given care.

check light icon As soon as an individual develops symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 they should be given a mask (if not already wearing one and if it can be worn safely), immediately placed under medical isolation in a separate environment from other individuals, and medically evaluated.

check light icon Ensure that medical isolation for COVID-19 is distinct from punitive solitary confinement of incarcerated/detained individuals, both in name and in practice.

Because of limited individual housing spaces within many correctional and detention facilities, infected individuals are often placed in the same housing spaces that are used for solitary confinement. To avoid being placed in these conditions, incarcerated/detained individuals may be hesitant to report COVID-19 symptoms, leading to continued transmission within shared housing spaces and, potentially, lack of health care and adverse health outcomes for infected individuals who delay reporting symptoms. Ensure that medical isolation is operationally distinct from solitary confinement, even if the same housing spaces are used for both. For example:

  • Ensure that individuals under medical isolation receive regular visits from medical staff and have access to mental health services.
  • Make efforts to provide similar access to radio, TV, reading materials, personal property, and commissary as would be available in individuals’ regular housing units.
  • Consider allowing increased telephone privileges without a cost barrier to maintain mental health and connection with others while isolated.
  • Communicate regularly with isolated individuals about the duration and purpose of their medical isolation period.

check light icon Keep the individual’s movement outside the medical isolation space to an absolute minimum.

    • Provide medical care to isolated individuals inside the medical isolation space, unless they need to be transferred to a healthcare facility. See Infection Control and Clinical Care sections for additional details.
    • Serve meals inside the medical isolation space.
    • Exclude the individual from all group activities.
    • Assign the isolated individual(s) a dedicated bathroom when possible. When a dedicated bathroom is not feasible, do not reduce access to restrooms or showers as a result. Clean and disinfect areas used by infected individuals frequently on an ongoing basis during medical isolation.

check light icon Ensure that the individual is wearing a mask if they must leave the medical isolation space for any reason, and whenever another individual enters. Provide clean masks as needed. Masks should be washed routinely and changed when visibly soiled or wet.

check light icon If the facility is housing individuals with confirmed COVID-19 as a cohort:

    • Only individuals with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 should be placed under medical isolation as a cohort. Do not cohort those with confirmed COVID-19 with those with suspected COVID-19, with close contacts of individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, or with those with undiagnosed respiratory infection who do not meet the criteria for suspected COVID-19.
    • Ensure that cohorted groups of people with confirmed COVID-19 wear masks whenever anyone else (including staff) enters the isolation space. (Anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should not wear a mask.)
    • When choosing a space to cohort groups of people with confirmed COVID-19, use a well-ventilated room with solid walls and a solid door that closes fully.
    • Use one large space for cohorted medical isolation rather than several smaller spaces. This practice will conserve PPE and reduce the chance of cross-contamination across different parts of the facility.

check light icon If possible, avoid transferring infected individual(s) to another facility unless necessary for medical care. If transfer is necessary, see Transport section for safe transport guidance. 

check light icon Staff assignments to isolation spaces should remain as consistent as possible, and these staff should limit their movements to other parts of the facility as much as possible. These staff should wear recommended PPE as appropriate for their level of contact with the individual under medical isolation (see PPE section below) and should limit their own movement between different parts of the facility.

    • If staff must serve multiple areas of the facility, ensure that they change PPE when leaving the isolation space. If a shortage of PPE supplies necessitates reuse, ensure that staff move only from areas of low to high exposure risk while wearing the same PPE, to prevent cross-contamination. For example, start in a housing unit where no one is known to be infected, then move to a space used as quarantine for close contacts, and end in an isolation unit. Ensure that staff are highly trained in infection control practices, including use of recommended PPE.

check light icon Provide individuals under medical isolation with tissues and, if permissible, a lined no-touch trash receptacle. Instruct them to:

    • Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze
    • Dispose of used tissues immediately in the lined trash receptacle
    • Wash hands immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol (where security concerns permit). Ensure that hand washing supplies are continually restocked.

check light icon Maintain medical isolation at least until CDC criteria for discontinuing home-based isolation have been met. These criteria have changed since CDC corrections guidance was originally issued and may continue to change as new data become available. Monitor the sites linked below regularly for updates. This content will not be outlined explicitly in this document due to the rapid pace of change.

    • CDC’s recommended strategy for release from home-based isolation can be found in the Discontinuation of Isolation for Persons with COVID-19 Not in Healthcare Settings Interim Guidance.
    • Detailed information about the data informing the symptom-based strategy, and considerations for extended isolation periods for persons in congregate settings including corrections, can be found here.
    • If persons will require ongoing care by medical providers, discontinuation of transmission-based precautions (PPE) should be based on similar criteria found here.

Cleaning Spaces where Individuals with COVID-19 Spend Time

check light icon Ensure that staff and incarcerated/detained persons performing cleaning wear recommended PPE. (See PPE section below.) 

check light icon Thoroughly and frequently clean and disinfect all areas where individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 spend time.

check light icon Hard (non-porous) surface cleaning and disinfection

    • If surfaces are soiled, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
    • Consult the list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19external icon. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
    • If EPA-approved disinfectants are not available, diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
      • Use bleach containing 5.25%–8.25% sodium hypochlorite. Do not use a bleach product if the percentage is not in this range or is not specified.
      • Follow the manufacturer’s application instructions for the surface, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute.
      • Ensure proper ventilation during and after application.
      • Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date.
      • Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. This can cause fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in.
    • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
      • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) of 5.25%–8.25% bleach per gallon of room temperature water

        OR

      • 4 teaspoons of 5.25%–8.25% bleach per quart of room temperature water
    • Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours.
    • Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also be used.

check light icon Soft (porous) surface cleaning and disinfection

    • For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floors and rugs, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning:

check light icon Electronics cleaning and disinfection

    • For electronics such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards, and remote controls, remove visible contamination if present.
      • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.
      • Consider use of wipeable covers for electronics.
      • If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.

      Additional information on cleaning and disinfection of communal facilities such can be found on CDC’s website.

check light icon Food service items. Individuals under medical isolation should throw disposable food service items in the trash in their medical isolation room. Non-disposable food service items should be handled with gloves and washed following food safety requirements. Individuals handling used food service items should clean their hands immediately after removing gloves.

check light icon Laundry from individuals with COVID-19 can be washed with other’s laundry.

    • Individuals handling laundry from those with COVID-19 should wear a mask, disposable gloves, and a gown, discard after each use, and clean their hands immediately after.
    • Do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air. Ensure that individuals performing cleaning wear recommended PPE (see PPE section below).
    • Launder items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely.
    • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces. If permissible, consider using a bag liner that is either disposable or can be laundered.

Transporting Individuals with Confirmed and Suspected COVID-19 and Quarantined Close Contacts

check light icon Refer to CDC guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on safely transporting individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. This guidance includes considerations for vehicle type, air circulation, communication with the receiving facility, and cleaning the vehicle after transport.

    • If the transport vehicle is not equipped with the features described in the EMS guidance, at minimum drive with the windows down and ensure that the fan is set to high, in non-recirculating mode. If the vehicle has a ceiling hatch, keep it open. 

check light icon Use the same precautions when transporting individuals under quarantine as close contacts of someone with COVID-19. 

check light icon See Table 1 for the recommended PPE for staff transporting someone with COVID-19.

Managing Close Contacts of Individuals with COVID-19

NOTE: Some recommendations below apply primarily to facilities with onsite healthcare capacity. Facilities without onsite healthcare capacity or without sufficient space to implement effective quarantine should coordinate with local public health officials to ensure that close contacts of individuals with COVID-19 will be effectively quarantined and medically monitored

Contact Tracing

check light icon To determine who is considered a close contact of an individual with COVID-19, see definition of close contact and the Interim Guidance on Developing a COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact Tracing Plan pdf icon[12 Kb, 1 page] for more information.

check light icon Contact tracing can be a useful tool to help contain disease outbreaks. When deciding whether to perform contact tracing, consider the following:

    • Have a plan in place for how close contacts of individuals with COVID-19 will be managed, including quarantine logistics.
    • Contact tracing can be especially impactful when:
      • There is a small number of infected individuals in the facility or in a particular housing unit. Aggressively tracing close contacts can help curb transmission before many other individuals are exposed.
      • The infected individual is a staff member or an incarcerated/detained individual who has had close contact with individuals from other housing units or with other staff. Identifying those close contacts can help prevent spread to other parts of the facility.
      • The infected individual is a staff member or an incarcerated/detained individual who has recently visited a community setting. In this situation, identifying close contacts can help reduce transmission from the facility into the community.
    • Contact tracing may be more feasible and effective in settings where incarcerated/detained individuals have limited contact with others (e.g., celled housing units), compared to settings where close contact is frequent and relatively uncontrolled (e.g., open dormitory housing units).
    • If there is a large number of individuals with COVID-19 in the facility, contact tracing may become difficult to manage. Under such conditions, consider broad-based testing in order to identify infections and prevent further transmission.
    • Consult CDC recommendations for Performing Broad-Based Testing for SARS-CoV-2 in Congregate Settings for further information regarding selecting a testing location, ensuring proper ventilation and PPE usage, setting up testing stations and supplies, and planning test-day operations.

Testing Close Contacts

check light icon Testing is recommended for all close contacts pdf icon[12 KB, 1 page] of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of whether the close contacts have symptoms.

    • Medically isolate those who test positive to prevent further transmission (see Medical Isolation section above).
    • Asymptomatic close contacts testing negative should be placed under quarantine precautions for 14 days from their last exposure.

Quarantine for Close Contacts (who test negative)

check light icon Incarcerated/detained persons who are close contacts of someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 (whether the infected individual is another incarcerated/detained person, staff member, or visitor) should be placed under quarantine for 14 days. (Refer to the Interim Guidance on Developing a COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact Tracing Plan pdf icon[12 KB, 1 page] for more information):

    • If a quarantined individual is tested again during quarantine and they remain negative, they should continue to quarantine for the full 14 days after last exposure and follow all recommendations of local public health authorities.
    • If an individual is quarantined due to contact with someone with suspected COVID-19 who is subsequently tested and receives a negative result, they can be released from quarantine. See Interim Guidance on Testing for SARS-CoV-2 in Correctional and Detention Facilities for more information about testing strategies in correctional and detention settings.

check light icon Quarantined individuals should be monitored for COVID-19 symptoms at least once per day including temperature checks.

    • See Screening section for a procedure to perform temperature checks safely on asymptomatic close contacts of someone with COVID-19.
    • If an individual develops symptoms for SARS-CoV-2, they should be considered a suspected COVID-19 case, given a mask (if not already wearing one), and moved to medical isolation immediately (individually, and separately from those with confirmed COVID-19 and others with suspected COVID-19) and further evaluated. (See Medical Isolation section above.) If the individual is tested and receives a positive result, they can then be cohorted with other individuals with confirmed COVID-19.

check light icon Quarantined individuals can be released from quarantine restrictions if they have not developed COVID-19 symptoms and have not tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 for 14 days since their last exposure to someone who tested positive.

check light icon Keep a quarantined individual’s movement outside the quarantine space to an absolute minimum.

    • Provide medical evaluation and care inside or near the quarantine space when possible.
    • Serve meals inside the quarantine space.
    • Exclude the quarantined individual from all group activities.
    • Assign the quarantined individual a dedicated bathroom when possible. When providing a dedicated bathroom is not feasible, do not reduce access to restrooms or showers as a result.

check light icon Restrict quarantined individuals from leaving the facility (including transfers to other facilities) during the 14-day quarantine period, unless released from custody or a transfer is necessary for medical care, infection control, lack of quarantine space, or extenuating security concerns.

check light icon If a quarantined individual leaves the quarantine space for any reason, they should wear a mask (unless contraindicated) as source control, if not already wearing one.

    • Quarantined individuals housed as a cohort should wear masks at all times (see cohorted quarantine section below).
    • Quarantined individuals housed alone should wear a mask whenever another individual enters the quarantine space.
    • Anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should not wear a mask.

check light icon Meals should be provided to quarantined individuals in their quarantine spaces. Individuals under quarantine should throw disposable food service items in the trash. Non-disposable food service items should be handled with gloves and washed with hot water or in a dishwasher. Individuals handling used food service items should clean their hands immediately after removing gloves.

check light icon Laundry from quarantined individuals can be washed with others’ laundry.

    • Individuals handling laundry from quarantined persons should wear a mask, disposable gloves, and a gown, discard after each use, and clean their hands immediately after.
    • Do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
    • Launder items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely.
    • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces. If permissible, consider using a bag liner that is either disposable or can be laundered.

check light icon Staff assignments to quarantine spaces should remain as consistent as possible, and these staff should limit their movements to other parts of the facility. These staff should wear recommended PPE based on their level of contact with the individuals under quarantine (see PPE section below).

    • If staff must serve multiple areas of the facility, ensure that they change PPE when leaving the quarantine space. If a shortage of PPE supplies necessitates reuse, ensure that staff move only from areas of low to high exposure risk while wearing the same PPE, to prevent cross-contamination.
    • Staff supervising asymptomatic incarcerated/detained persons under routine intake quarantine (with no known exposure to someone with COVID-19) do not need to wear PPE but should still wear a mask as source control.

Cohorted Quarantine for Multiple Close Contacts (who test negative)

check light icon Facilities should make every possible effort to individually quarantine close contacts of individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Cohorting multiple quarantined close contacts could transmit SARS-CoV-2 from those who are infected to those who are uninfected. Cohorting should only be practiced if there are no other available options.

check light icon In order of preference, multiple quarantined individuals should be housed:

    • IDEAL: Separately, in single cells with solid walls (i.e., not bars) and solid doors that close fully
    • Separately, in single cells with solid walls but without solid doors
    • As a cohort, in a large, well-ventilated cell with solid walls, a solid door that closes fully, and at least 6 feet of personal space assigned to each individual in all directions
    • As a cohort, in a large, well-ventilated cell with solid walls and at least 6 feet of personal space assigned to each individual in all directions, but without a solid door
    • As a cohort, in single cells without solid walls or solid doors (i.e., cells enclosed entirely with bars), preferably with an empty cell between occupied cells creating at least 6 feet of space between individuals. (Although individuals are in single cells in this scenario, the airflow between cells essentially makes it a cohort arrangement in the context of COVID-19.)
    • As a cohort, in multi-person cells without solid walls or solid doors (i.e., cells enclosed entirely with bars), preferably with an empty cell between occupied cells. Employ social distancing strategies related to housing in the Prevention section to maintain at least 6 feet of space between individuals housed in the same cell.
    • As a cohort, in individuals’ regularly assigned housing unit but with no movement outside the unit (if an entire housing unit has been exposed – referred to as “quarantine in place”). Employ social distancing strategies related to housing in the Prevention section above to maintain at least 6 feet of space between individuals.
    • Safely transfer to another facility with capacity to quarantine in one of the above arrangements. (See Transport)
      (NOTE – Transfer should be avoided due to the potential to introduce infection to another facility; proceed only if no other options are available.)

If the ideal choice does not exist in a facility, use the next best alternative as a harm reduction approach.

check light icon If cohorting close contacts is absolutely necessary, be especially mindful of those who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Ideally, they should not be cohorted with other quarantined individuals. If cohorting is unavoidable, make all possible accommodations to reduce exposure for the individuals with increased risk of severe illness. (For example, intensify social distancing strategies for individuals with increased risk.)

check light icon If single cells for isolation (of those with suspected COVID-19) and quarantine (of close contacts) are limited, prioritize them in rank order as follows to reduce the risk of further SARS-CoV-2 transmission and adverse health outcomes:

    • Individuals with suspected COVID-19 who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
    • Others with suspected COVID-19
    • Quarantined close contacts of someone with COVID-19 who are themselves at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19

check light icon If a facility must cohort quarantined close contacts, all cohorted individuals should be monitored closely for symptoms of COVID-19, and those with symptoms should be placed under medical isolation immediately.

check light icon If an individual who is part of a quarantined cohort becomes symptomatic:

    • If the individual is tested for SARS-CoV-2 and receives a positive result: the 14-day quarantine clock for the remainder of the cohort must be reset to 0.
    • If the individual is tested for SARS-CoV-2 and receives a negative result: the 14-day quarantine clock for this individual and the remainder of the cohort does not need to be reset. This individual can return from medical isolation to the quarantine cohort for the remainder of the quarantine period as their symptoms and diagnosis allow.
    • If the individual is not tested for SARS-CoV-2: the 14-day quarantine clock for the remainder of the cohort must be reset to 0.

check light icon Consider re-testing all individuals in a quarantine cohort every 3-7 days, and immediately place those who test positive under medical isolation. This strategy can help identify and isolate infected individuals early and minimize continued transmission within the cohort.

check light icon Consider testing all individuals quarantined as close contacts of someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 at the end of the 14-day quarantine period, before releasing them from quarantine precautions.

check light icon Do not add more individuals to an existing quarantine cohort after the 14-day quarantine clock has started. Doing so would complicate the calculation of the cohort’s quarantine period, and potentially introduce new sources of infection.

check light icon Some facilities may choose to quarantine all new intakes for 14 days before moving them to the facility’s general population as a general rule (not because they were exposed to someone with COVID-19). Under this scenario, do not mix individuals undergoing routine intake quarantine with those who are quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure.

Management Strategies for Incarcerated/Detained Persons without COVID-19 Symptoms

check light icon Provide clear information to incarcerated/detained persons about the presence of COVID-19 within the facility, and the need to increase social distancing and maintain hygiene precautions.

    • As much as possible, provide this information in person and allow opportunities for incarcerated/detained individuals to ask questions (e.g., town hall format if social distancing is feasible, or informal peer-to-peer education).
    • Ensure that information is provided in a manner that can be understood by non-English speaking individuals and those with low literacy, and make necessary accommodations for those with cognitive or intellectual disabilities and those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, blind, or have low-vision.

check light icon If individuals with COVID-19 have been identified among staff or incarcerated/detained persons anywhere in a facility, consider implementing regular symptom screening and temperature checks in housing units that have not yet identified infections, until no additional infections have been identified in the facility for 14 days. Because some incarcerated/detained persons are hesitant to report symptoms, it is very important to monitor for symptoms closely even though doing so is resource intensive. See Screening section for a procedure to safely perform a temperature check.

check light icon Consider additional options to intensify social distancing within the facility.

Management Strategies for Staff

check light icon Provide clear information to staff about the presence of COVID-19 within the facility, and the need to enforce universal use of masks (unless contraindicated) and social distancing and to encourage hygiene precautions.

    • As much as possible, provide this information in person (if social distancing is feasible) and allow opportunities for staff to ask questions.

check light icon Staff identified as close contacts of someone with COVID-19 should be tested for SARS-CoV-2 and self-quarantine at home for 14 days, unless a shortage of critical staff precludes quarantine of those who are asymptomatic (see considerations for critical infrastructure workers). Refer to the Interim Guidance on Developing a COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact Tracing Plan pdf icon[12 KB, 1 page] for more information about contact tracing.

    • Close contacts should self-monitor for symptoms and seek testing.
    • Refer to CDC guidelines for further recommendations regarding home quarantine.

check light icon Staff who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should meet CDC criteria for ending home isolation before returning to work. Monitor CDC guidance on discontinuing home isolation regularly, as circumstances evolve rapidly.

Infection Control

Infection control guidance below is applicable to all types of correctional and detention facilities. Individual facilities should assess their unique needs based on the types of exposure staff and incarcerated/detained persons may have with someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

check light icon All individuals who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to someone with COVID-19 or infectious materials (including body substances; contaminated medical supplies, devices, and equipment; contaminated environmental surfaces; or contaminated air) should follow infection control practices outlined in the CDC Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings. Monitor these guidelines regularly for updates.

    • Implement the above guidance as fully as possible within the correctional/detention context. Some of the specific language may not apply directly to healthcare settings within correctional facilities and detention centers, or to facilities without onsite healthcare capacity, and may need to be adapted to reflect facility operations and custody needs.
    • Note that these recommendations apply to staff as well as to incarcerated/detained individuals who may come in contact with contaminated materials during the course of their work placement in the facility (e.g., cleaning). 

check light icon Staff should exercise caution and wear recommended PPE when in contact with individuals showing COVID-19 symptoms. Contact should be minimized to the extent possible until the infected individual is wearing a mask (if not already wearing one and if not contraindicated) and staff are wearing PPE.

check light icon Refer to PPE section to determine recommended PPE for individuals in contact with individuals with COVID-19, their close contacts, and potentially contaminated items.

check light icon Remind staff about the importance of limiting unnecessary movements between housing units and through multiple areas of the facility, to prevent cross-contamination.

check light icon Ensure that staff and incarcerated/detained persons are trained to doff PPE after they leave a space where PPE is required, as needed within the scope of their duties and work details. Ideally, staff should don clean PPE before entering a different space within the facility that also requires PPE.

    • If PPE shortages make it impossible for staff to change PPE when they move between different spaces within the facility, ensure that they are trained to move from areas of low exposure risk (“clean”) to areas of higher exposure risk (“dirty”) while wearing the same PPE, to minimize the risk of contamination across different parts of the facility.

Clinical Care for Individuals with COVID-19

check light icon Facilities should ensure that incarcerated/detained individuals receive medical evaluation and treatment at the first signs of COVID-19 symptoms.

    • If a facility is not able to provide such evaluation and treatment, a plan should be in place to safely transfer the individual to another facility or local hospital (including notifying the facility/hospital in advance). See Transport section. The initial medical evaluation should determine whether a symptomatic individual is at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Persons at increased risk may include older adults and persons of any age with serious underlying medical conditions, including chronic kidney disease, serious heart conditions, and Type-2 diabetes. See CDC’s website for a complete list and check regularly for updates as more data become available to inform this issue.
    • Based on available information, pregnant people seem to have the same risk of COVID-19 as adults who are not pregnant. However, much remains unknown about the risks of COVID-19 to the pregnant person, the pregnancy, and the unborn child. Prenatal and postnatal care is important for all pregnant people, including those who are incarcerated/detained. Visit the CDC website for more information on pregnancy and breastfeeding in the context of COVID-19.

check light icon Staff evaluating and providing care for individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should follow the CDC Interim Clinical Guidance for Management of Patients with Confirmed Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and monitor the guidance website regularly for updates to these recommendations.

check light icon Healthcare staff should evaluate persons with COVID-19 symptoms and those who are close contacts of someone with COVID-19 in a separate room, with the door closed if possible, while wearing recommended PPE and ensuring that the individual being evaluated is wearing a mask.

    • If possible, designate a room near each housing unit to evaluate individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, rather than having symptomatic individuals walk through the facility to be evaluated in the medical unit. 

check light icon Clinicians are strongly encouraged to test for other causes of respiratory illness (e.g., influenza). However, presence of another illness such as influenza does not rule out COVID-19.

check light icon When evaluating and treating persons with symptoms of COVID-19 who do not speak English, use a language line or provide a trained interpreter when possible.

Recommended PPE and PPE Training for Staff and Incarcerated/Detained Persons

check light icon Ensure that all staff (healthcare and non-healthcare) and incarcerated/detained persons who will have contact with infectious materials in their work placements have been trained to correctly don, doff, and dispose of PPE relevant to the level of contact they will have with individuals with confirmed and suspected COVID-19. Ensure strict adherence to OSHA PPE requirements.

    • Ensure that staff and incarcerated/detained persons who require respiratory protection (e.g., N95 respirator) for their work responsibilities have been medically cleared, trained, and fit-tested in the context of an employer’s respiratory protection program. If individuals wearing N95 respirators have facial hair, it should not protrude under the respirator seal, or extend far enough to interfere with the device’s valve function (see OSHA regulationsexternal icon).
    • For PPE training materials and posters, visit the CDC website on Protecting Healthcare Personnel.

check light icon Ensure that all staff are trained to perform hand hygiene after removing PPE.

check light icon Ensure that PPE is readily available where and when needed, and that PPE donning/doffing/disposal stations have been set up as described in the Preparation section.

check light icon Recommended PPE for incarcerated/detained individuals and staff in a correctional facility will vary based on the type of contact they have with someone with COVID-19 and their close contacts (see Table 1). Each type of recommended PPE is defined below. As above, note that PPE shortages are anticipated in every category during the COVID-19 response.

    • N95 respirator
      N95 respirators should be prioritized when staff anticipate contact with infectious aerosols or droplets from someone with COVID-19. See below for guidance on when surgical masks are acceptable alternatives for N95s. Individuals working under conditions that require an N95 respirator should not use a cloth mask when an N95 is indicated.
    • Surgical mask
      Worn to protect the wearer from splashes, sprays, and respiratory droplets generated by others. (NOTE: Surgical masks are distinct from cloth masks, which are not PPE but are worn to protect others in the surrounding area from respiratory droplets generated by the wearer. Individuals working under conditions that require a surgical mask should not use a cloth mask when a surgical mask is indicated.)
    • Eye protection
      Goggles or disposable face shield that fully covers the front and sides of the face.
    • A single pair of disposable patient examination gloves
      Gloves should be changed if they become torn or heavily contaminated.
    • Disposable medical isolation gown or single-use/disposable coveralls, when feasible
      • If custody staff are unable to wear a disposable gown or coveralls because it limits access to their duty belt and gear, ensure that duty belt and gear are disinfected after close contact with an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, and that clothing is changed as soon as possible and laundered. Clean and disinfect duty belt and gear prior to reuse using a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the product label.
      • If there are shortages of gowns, they should be prioritized for aerosol-generating procedures, activities where splashes and sprays are anticipated, and high-contact activities that provide opportunities for transfer of pathogens to the hands and clothing of the wearer.

check light icon Note that shortages of all PPE categories have been seen during the COVID-19 response, particularly for non-healthcare workers. Guidance for optimizing the supply of each category (including strategies to reuse PPE safely) can be found on CDC’s website:

    • Strategies for optimizing the supply of N95 respirators
      • Based on local and regional situational analysis of PPE supplies, surgical masks are an acceptable alternative when the supply chain of respirators cannot meet the demand. During this time, available respirators should be prioritized for staff engaging in activities that would expose them to respiratory aerosols, which pose the highest exposure risk.
    • Strategies for optimizing the supply of surgical masks
      • Reserve surgical masks for individuals who need PPE. Issue cloth masks to incarcerated/detained persons and staff as source control, in order to preserve surgical mask supply (see recommended PPE).

Table 1. Recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Incarcerated/Detained Persons and Staff in a Correctional or Detention Facility during the COVID-19 Response

Classification of Individual Wearing PPE
Classification of Individual Wearing PPE N95 respirator Surgical mask Eye Protection Gloves Gown/ Coveralls
Incarcerated/Detained Persons
Asymptomatic incarcerated/detained persons (under quarantine as close contacts of someone with COVID-19) Use cloth masks as source control (NOTE: cloth face coverings are NOT PPE and may not protect the wearer. Prioritize cloth masks for source control among all persons who do not meet criteria for N95 or surgical masks, and to conserve surgical masks for situations that require PPE.)
Incarcerated/detained persons who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19, or showing symptoms of COVID-19
Incarcerated/detained persons handling laundry or used food service items from someone with COVID-19 or their close contacts X X
Incarcerated/detained persons cleaning an area where someone with COVID-19 spends time Additional PPE may be needed based on the product label. See CDC guidelines for more details. X X
Staff
Staff having direct contact with asymptomatic incarcerated/detained persons under quarantine as close contacts of someone with COVID-19* (but not performing temperature checks or providing medical care) Surgical mask, eye protection, and gloves as local supply and scope of duties allow.
Staff performing temperature checks on any group of people (staff, visitors, or incarcerated/detained persons), or providing medical care to asymptomatic quarantined persons X X X
Staff having direct contact with (including transport) or offering medical care to individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 (See CDC infection control guidelines). For recommended PPE for staff performing collection of specimens for SARS-CoV-2 testing see the Standardized procedure for SARS-CoV-2 testing in congregate settings. X** X X X
Staff present during a procedure on someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 that may generate infectious aerosols (See CDC infection control guidelines) X X X X
Staff handling laundry or used food service items from someone with COVID-19 or their close contacts X X
Staff cleaning an area where someone with COVID-19 spends time Additional PPE may be needed based on the product label. See CDC guidelines for more details. X X

* A NIOSH-approved N95 respirator is preferred. However, based on local and regional situational analysis of PPE supplies, surgical masks are an acceptable alternative when the supply chain of respirators cannot meet the demand. During this time, available respirators should be prioritized for procedures that are likely to generate respiratory aerosols, which would pose the highest exposure risk to staff.

Verbal Screening and Temperature Check Protocols for Incarcerated/Detained Persons, Staff, and Visitors

The guidance above recommends verbal screening and temperature checks for incarcerated/detained persons, staff, volunteers, and visitors who enter correctional and detention facilities, as well as incarcerated/detained persons who are transferred to another facility or released from custody. Below, verbal screening questions for COVID-19 symptoms and contact with known cases, and a safe temperature check procedure are detailed.

check light icon Verbal screening for symptoms of COVID-19 and contact with COVID-19 cases should include the following questions:

    • Today or in the past 24 hours, have you had any of the following symptoms?
      • Fever, felt feverish, or had chills?
      • Cough?
      • Difficulty breathing?
    • In the past 14 days, have you had close contact with a person known to be infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? 

check light icon The following is a protocol to safely check an individual’s temperature:

    • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
    • Put on a surgical mask, eye protection (goggles or disposable face shield that fully covers the front and sides of the face), and a single pair of disposable gloves
    • Check individual’s temperature
    • If performing a temperature check on multiple individuals, ensure that a clean pair of gloves is used for each individual and that the thermometer has been thoroughly cleaned in between each check. If disposable or non-contact thermometers are used and the screener did not have physical contact with an individual, gloves do not need to be changed before the next check. If non-contact thermometers are used, they should be cleaned with an alcohol wipe (or isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab) between each individual.
    • Remove and discard PPE
    • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol

check light icon If a physical barrier or partition is used to protect the screener rather than a PPE-based approach, the following protocol can be used. (During screening, the screener stands behind a physical barrier, such as a glass or plastic window or partition, that can protect the screener’s face and mucous membranes from respiratory droplets that may be produced when the person being screened sneezes, coughs, or talks.)

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Put on a single pair of disposable gloves.
  • Check the individual’s temperature, reaching around the partition or through the window. Make sure the screener’s face stays behind the barrier at all times during the screening.
  • If performing a temperature check on multiple individuals, ensure that a clean pair of gloves is used for each individual and that the thermometer has been thoroughly cleaned in between each check. If disposable or non-contact thermometers are used and the screener did not have physical contact with an individual, gloves do not need to be changed before the next check. If non-contact thermometers are used, they should be cleaned with an alcohol wipe (or isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab) between each individual.
  • Remove and discard gloves.

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