FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2020
Contact: FDC Communications
UPDATED - FDC PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT: COVID-19
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — 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 and within the employee sector that has contact with the inmate or offender population. These numbers are updated frequently on our website.
FDC COVID-19 Confirmed Cases
|Total confirmed cases||12||0|
Privately-operated by The Geo Group Inc.*
|Community Corrections Region 3||1||n/a|
|Community Corrections Region 4||1||n/a|
Information on Testing:
The county health department provides guidance to determine which inmates are tested for COVID-19. If an inmate begins experiencing symptoms indicative of COVID-19, FDC will immediately engage with the county health department and the inmate will be placed in medical isolation, pending DOH testing.
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. These staff will not be permitted to return to work until they have been cleared by a medical professional.
Information Regarding Correctional Institution Staff:
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 on the above individuals (gender, age, travel status) should be directed to the Florida DOH.
Information on Offenders on Probation:
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 Response to Confirmed Positive COVID-19 Cases
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 department of health 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 COVID-19 Action Items
- 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 has 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 DOH and CDC 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, etc.
- 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 have been temporarily adjusted. FDC is working closely with the Florida Sheriff’s Association regarding this temporary measure.
- 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.
Ensuring inmates incarcerated in Florida’s prisons receive all medically necessary medical and behavioral treatment is one of FDC’s core constitutional responsibilities. FDC ensures an appropriate level of health care is provided to all inmates and FDC’s medical provider is held accountable for care in line with evolving national standards.
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs 24,000 members statewide, incarcerates approximately 94,000 inmates and supervises nearly 161,000 offenders in the community.