Statements from the BOP and the DOC concerning the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-2019)
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global pandemic for the coronavirus, which causes a disease officially known as COVID-19. It has spread to at least 114 countries, including the United States. The complete clinical picture regarding COVID-19 is not fully known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild, including some with no reported symptoms, to severe, including illness resulting in death.
The CIC contacted the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to inquire about protocols for handling the coronavirus outbreak, including prevention, detection, and treatment, as well as plans for staffing if correctional staff are impacted by the outbreak. The BOP responded:
With respect to COVID-19, the BOP is following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
There are no known cases of COVID-19 among Bureau of Prisons inmates at this time. Out of an abundance of caution, the BOP provided guidance to health care professionals throughout the system and has a screening tool in place for use in the event an inmate or staff member is exposed or symptomatic. The BOP has an internal web-based system for reporting infectious diseases and outbreaks, allowing access to health care and correctional professionals system-wide.
The BOP is providing information to staff and inmates regarding practicing good hygiene and other information regarding BOP's initial and preventive preparations.
The CIC also contacted the DC Department of Corrections (DOC) to inquire about policies for a potential outbreak, and current preventative measures. The DOC responded:
The DC Department of Corrections takes the safety and well-being of DOC residents, visitors, staff, volunteers, and contractors extremely seriously.
As we continue to monitor COVID-19 in our community and follow guidance from DC Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are taking necessary steps to protect everyone in our facilities and ensure that residents can continue to safely receive visitors.
· Established Incident Command Team
· Medical Staff is staying vigilant and meeting with each housing unit and officer roll call
· Developed and implemented a strategic communications plan
· Enhanced cleaning efforts, especially within common areas
· Ordered additional cleaning and sanitation supplies, including protective gloves, masks and clothing for staff
· Initiated a two-hour cleaning of the entire facility (sanitizing and reminding people to wash their hands)
· Continuously partnering and sharing info with our criminal justice partners
· Sending daily COVID-19 emails to all employees to keep everyone informed
Effective March 11, 2020, in an effort to prevent the potential spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the District of Columbia Department of Corrections (DC DOC) facilities; Central Detention Facility (CDF) Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF), Central Cell Block (CCB), VVC (Video Visitation Center), The Center for Professional Development and Learning (CPDL), and The Ready Center, DOC will screen all staff and visitors (friends, family members, attorneys, contractors, volunteers, etc.) for the virus before they are allowed to enter the facilities. The screening will take place at the main entrances of the facilities. DOC staff and visitors will be asked if they are currently experiencing flu-like symptoms (cough, fever or shortness of breath), if they have come into direct contact with a person with the COVID-19 virus, or if they have recently traveled to country affected by the COVID-19 virus. If DOC staff responds “yes” to any of these questions, they will be sent home and advised to see their health care provider. If a visitor responds “yes” to any of these questions or exhibits obvious flu-like symptoms, they will be denied entry to the facilities.
We will continue to keep you up to date on all DOC efforts regarding the coronavirus. As CDC and DC Health guidelines and recommendations change, we will provide updated information to everyone in our facilities. Also, for more information regarding the coronavirus, please visit coronavirus.dc.gov/ .
The CIC will keep the public informed as we receive additional information regarding COVID-19 within the BOP and the DOC.