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COVID in Prison; The Impacts of Coronavirus in Corrections and How to Adapt

2020 has been a wild ride so far and we are barely through the halfway point. Covid has infiltrated every crevice of our economy, drastically changing the way we approach the world. Correctional medicine has been no exception. While the deaths in correctional facilities across the nation have been incredibly low so far, jails, prisons, and juvenile, facilities have been forced to completely overhaul their procedures. 

Personal space which has traditionally been a near unachievable luxury in the world of corrections, is quickly becoming a necessity. Inmates are now required to quarantine for 14 days upon intake.l This leaves most counties scrambling to find or make space in already full facilities. Working together to share information will be crucial as we continue to navigate this new landscape. Washington state Sheriffs and Police Chiefs have come together to share some techniques that have been successful for them:

1.     Review of Disaster Plan– Review, update, and use your disaster plans.

2.     Screen Staff– The current CDC guidelines for screening requires a temperature check for fever above 100 degrees. Check for shortness of breath, recent travel to a high-risk country and or exposure to a known carrier. When 2 out of 3 are present staff should be sent home and all results recorded in a log. Guidelines are constantly changing as new information emerges. Be sure to stay up to date with the CDC web site here, as well as checking with your local health department.

3.     Screening Arrestees- The screening criteria remains the same as for the staff except they will not be sent home if they fail the initial screening. Instead they will be required to isolate for at least 14 days. Or until on-site medical professionals deem the individual to no longer be a contagion risk.

4.     Non-contact Visitations- If you do not already have some form of this consider implementing it. Whether via telephone, video conferencing, or in specially designed rooms.

Working together to share what has been successful thus far will be key in successfully combatting this virus.

 If you have not already, please consider implementing some of the things that have been working in Washington. To find out more about what Washington is doing and see their results visit the NCCHC website linked here