The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC), in conjunction with Florida Department of Health (DOH) and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), are closely monitoring developments associated with COVID-19. FDC is prepared to handle any potential cases of COVID-19 within the state-operated correctional institutions in Florida.
FDC is closely aligned with the CDC Interim Guidance on Management of COVID-19 in Correctional and Detention Facilities.
FDC is committed to providing accurate data regarding the number of positive COVID-19 cases within the inmate population in its correctional institutions and within the employee sector that has contact with the inmate or offender population. These numbers are updated frequently on our website.4-20-20 Office of Communications - COVID-19 Information -- Florida Department of Corrections
Information on Testing
FDC’s testing priorities closely align with recommendations from the CDC and current treatment protocols established by the Florida Department of Health.
If an inmate begins experiencing symptoms indicative of COVID-19 they will be placed in medical isolation. All inmates in medical isolation are tested for COVID-19 and are monitored by health services staff.
Sample testing of asymptomatic inmates in medical quarantine that are elderly, have a compromised immune system and/or preexisting medical condition are being conducted.
4/20/20 10:00 a.m.
FDC is releasing information on deaths of inmates who tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of the cause of death. The Florida Department of Health defines a COVID-19 related death as a person who has died following a positive COVID-19 test. FDC is not releasing information that would lead to the identification of individuals due to privacy concerns. Because of the current availability of records, additional identifying information regarding COVID-19 related deaths is prohibited from release.
The district Medical Examiner is required to determine the cause of death for any person who dies in a prison or penal institution, and that determination is releasable by the Medical Examiner
In order to protect the personal health information of these individuals, FDC will not identify the name or occupation of the employees at these facilities. Staff listed above may be employed by FDC or one of its contractors. Any employee who is symptomatic, or who has tested positive for COVID-19, will not be allowed entry to a correctional institution. The employee will not be allowed to return to work until a full recovery is documented by a medical professional and DOH and CDC guidelines are followed. Additional questions regarding these individuals (gender, age, travel status) should be directed to the Florida DOH.
If a staff member presents with any symptoms of illness, they have been instructed not to report to work and contact their health care provider.
Offenders living in the community will not be included in this reporting. If an offender on community supervision tests positive for COVID-19, they will work directly with their probation officer on reporting requirements.
FDC’s Office of Health Services, institutional medical staff and institutional operations staff work hand-in-hand with the Florida DOH to quickly engage and resolve infectious disease outbreaks as soon as they occur. FDC’s primary goal is ensuring the health, safety and security of FDC staff and the inmates in our care and custody.
- If an inmate presents to medical with symptoms indicative of COVID-19, medical staff will place the inmate in medical isolation, pending DOH testing.
- With every potential and/or positive case of COVID-19, FDC works closely with the local health department to conduct a trace-back contact investigation and determine if additional staff or inmates need to be tested due to close contact risk factors. This investigation will also determine the need to place inmates on varying levels of restricted movement.
- Staff members who test positive for COVID-19 will not return to work until a full recovery is documented by a medical professional and DOH and CDC guidelines are followed.
- If it is determined that a COVID-19 positive employee has not had contact with the inmate population, the inmates will not be placed in medical quarantine.
- Symptomatic inmates will be placed in medical isolation, and FDC will immediately engage with the county health department. The county health department will make a determination on testing.
- The inmate will not be allowed to move in and out of their dormitories until they have been medically cleared by an onsite medical professional.
- Only essential staff will be allowed to enter the institution and no inmates will transfer in or out.
- While inmates are in medical quarantine, they still have access to washrooms, showers and medical care. Meals are provided to the inmates within their housing units.
- FDC has a plan in place and dedicated staff members trained in the prevention and containment of infectious diseases.
- FDC’s Office of Health Services coordinates with the Florida DOH for guidance on any type of outbreak and is closely monitoring new information as it is disseminated from Florida DOH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- FDC initiated its Incident Command System in response to COVID-19.
- FDC Community Corrections officers are working with offenders on supervision to adjust reporting schedules to minimize congregating at probation offices and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Following the State of Emergency issued in response to COVID-19 in Florida, FDC suspended visitation at all correctional institutions statewide. See press release.
- FDC has partnered with vendors to provide some complimentary phone and video visitation services. See press release.
- Anyone entering a correctional institution will be screened in accordance with Federal, State and Department guidelines.
- In order to comply with social distancing guidelines, as recommended by the CDC, program services have been temporarily adjusted, to include academic education, career and technical education, substance use treatment and limited chaplaincy services.
- Inmate dining will be adjusted to stagger seating and meal times to maximize social distancing.
- Medical co-pays for inmates who are experiencing flu-like or respiratory symptoms are being waived. Inmates are never denied medical treatment for the inability to pay a co-pay.
- Outside inmate work squads have been restricted. FDC will continue to coordinate efforts with FDOT.
- All non-critical inmate transfers have been suspended.
- New inmate commitments from county jails go through additional screening and 14-day quarantine before placement within general population. More information here.
- Volunteer activities have been suspended statewide.
- All Community Release Centers have suspended furloughs for inmates, in order to limit the inmate population’s exposure to the public.
- Education has been provided to staff and inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Precautions are in place at facilities to protect inmates and staff from exposure to flu or any other respiratory illness; preventative measures are being followed per CDC recommendations.