COVID-19 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

The well-being of all who live and work in an FDC institution is of the utmost importance to FDC. Many measures are in place to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19.

FDC is closely aligned with 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.

COVID-19 Homepage Click Here.

  • What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

    Isolation separates people who have or are showing potential symptoms of a contagious disease or virus, from people who do not.

    Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease or virus to see if they become sick.

  • What is a contact investigation?

    When public health workers investigate whether a disease has spread, it is called a contact investigation. For COVID-19, this generally starts with an interview of the person who has tested positive. Questions are asked such as places they have been and a list of people who may have had close contact with them. CDC considers a close contact someone who was within about six feet of someone with COVID-19 for a long period or had direct contact with infectious secretions of a person with coronavirus — such as being coughed on.

  • What is an Incident Command System?

    An Incident Command System (ICS) is a management system designed to enable effective and efficient incident management by bringing together a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures and communications operating within a common organizational structure. At FDC, the ICS has daily meetings, which include agency leaders, to discuss emerging and ongoing issues, prioritize resources, streamline distribution of necessary equipment and implement solutions to issues that arise as a result of the COVID-19 health emergency.

  • What does “restricted movement” mean?

    Restricted movement means something different for each situation. There is no “one size fits all” answer – FDC personnel address each situation differently, while following established infectious disease protocols. Generally, recreation and canteen services continue to be offered within the parameters of movement restrictions.

    If an entire dorm is placed on restricted movement, inmates within that dorm are separated from the general population and take meals within their housing unit. Inmates still have access to all of their property, including a JPay tablet, if they possess one and canteen services continue to be provided .

  • Are prisons be equipped with sanitizing stations for inmates?

    Yes, all inmates have access to hand soap and water. Hand soap is available in inmate restrooms. Health items, such as toilet paper and soap, are replenished as needed. Education has also been issued for inmates instructing them to wash their hands frequently and follow CDC guidelines for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.

    Hand sanitizer is classified as contraband because of the high alcohol content and the possibility for abuse. All inmates have access to soap and water. CDC recommends using soap and water, and only when that is not available, hand sanitizer.

  • Are correctional officers being screened?

    Yes, correctional officers are screened prior to entry into all correctional institutions.

    FDC has implemented enhanced screening protocols for all employees, contract staff and any others who enter any correctional institution.

    Anyone, including staff, will be denied entry if they:

    • Have signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection such as fever (99.6 degrees or higher), cough or shortness of breath.
    • Have had contact with someone who has COVID-19 or is currently under DOH investigation for COVID-19.

    If a corrections officer or other institution staff member or contractor fails screening, they will be denied entry pending a review by institutional leadership to determine if medical clearance is necessary for entry.

    FDC employees may use accrued personal leave (sick, annual, personal, comp) if they are unable to telework during self-isolation or quarantine following close contact with an individual who has been confirmed positive for COVID-19. Procedures have been established by Governor DeSantis and the Department of Management Services to enable employees to donate leave if a state employee does not have any accrued leave.

  • Is re-test data included in FDC’s statistics?

    Re-test data is included in FDC numbers. The testing numbers reported out each day are cumulative. If an inmate was tested in April and then tested in May, both of those tests will appear in our data. If an inmate tests negative but is re-tested and tests positive (or negative), those tests are both included in the figures we report out. Re-test data is not currently aggregated for statistical purposes. It should also be noted that although inmate transfers have been severely limited, inmate movement still is occurring, as such, the inmate population is a fluid number and does not contain all of the same individuals at any two given times.

    The goal of providing daily updates on this website is to provide transparency to the general public regarding FDC’s COVID-19 response efforts and to inform the public as to the current status of COVID-19 within the inmate population and the employee sector that has contact with the inmate or offender populations. FDC’s data is not meant to provide statistical insight into COVID-19. Comparing the rate of positive inmates to that of the general population is extremely flawed as FDC’s population does not mirror the general population of Florida. The correctional environment consists of large group housing and shared spaces, unlike that of the general population.

    The primary responsibility and focus of FDC’s Office of Health Services is to provide medical treatment and care to inmates in custody. All staff resources are dedicated to these efforts. Testing is being expanded at institutions with known positive COVID-19 cases in order for FDC to focus medical personnel and services to inmates with the greatest need. Voluntary testing of staff at these locations is also being conducted.

    The Florida Department of Health is the lead agency in Florida for collecting and reporting information regarding COVID-19. General information and statistics regarding COVID-19 positive patients, separated by county, is available at www.floridahealthcovid19.gov. Questions on positivity rates should be directed to the Florida Department of Health. FDC reports all testing results to the Florida DOH.

  • Are correctional officers taking any precautions?

    Cloth face coverings are being produced and distributed to staff and the inmate population. Cloth face coverings or masks are required to be worn. FDC staff have been authorized to wear personal face coverings while inside facilities. See press release.

    Education and guidance have been provided to staff regarding infection control policies and procedures to protect against the spread of COVID-19 in correctional institutions, including following CDC guidelines:

    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • Stay home if you are feeling ill.
  • Are staff and inmates being given necessary supplies in order to protect themselves?

    FDC is exercising caution to keep the inmate population safe. All staff and inmates have been issued and are required to wear cloth face coverings. Correctional officers have access to latex gloves at all times. Masks are provided when indicated in accordance with infectious disease protocols. FDC has been actively monitoring and assessing institutions to ensure inmates and staff have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to immediately address any potential COVID-19 exposures. Surgical-grade masks, N95 masks, eye protection and Tyvek suits are available at institutions for proper PPE utilization by staff treating inmates.

  • What are Florida correctional institutions doing to prevent the spread of coronavirus?

    FDC’s Office of Health Services continues to work closely with DOH. FDC is diligently monitoring the spread of COVID-19. Dedicated staff members who are trained in the prevention and containment of infectious diseases have created evolving response plans based on ongoing developments.

    As a precautionary measure, FDC’s emergency operation center is activated and fully prepared to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. FDC has longstanding outbreak management plans in place to address communicable disease outbreaks, as well as preparedness procedures to address a variety of medical emergencies.

    FDC receives constant guidance on any type of outbreak and are closely monitoring new information as it is disseminated from DOH and CDC. FDC will continue to ensure inmate safety and security, and the continuation of access to health services for those in FDC custody. In addition to these measures, FDC has modified inmate movement within institutions to limit the amount of social mixing between groups of inmates. For instance, inmates are now dining, recreating and attending programming with other inmates housed within their dorm. Every effort to limit dorms interacting with one another is being taken.

    See a comprehensive breakdown of all of the proactive measures FDC has taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Florida’s prison system.

  • Are inmates being identified who may have been in contact with someone who tested positive and if so, what steps have been taken to protect those inmates?

    FDC’s Office of Health Services, institutional medical staff and institutional operations staff work to conduct trace back investigations and isolation and quarantine measures are taken in accordance with FDC’s infectious disease protocols, CDC and DOH recommendations.

  • What steps are taken to ensure inmates receive testing?

    If an inmate begins experiencing symptoms indicative of COVID-19, FDC medical staff will immediately engage with the county health department and place the inmate in medical isolation. All inmates in medical isolation are tested for COVID-19 and are monitored by health services staff.

  • Does FDC have adequate testing capacity?

    Yes. Sufficient test kits are available so recommended testing procedures can be followed.

  • How is the FDC ensuring adequate officer staffing in the event that a large amount of officers test positive?

    FDC has a plan in place as a precautionary measure if a large-scale officer absence were to take place. All FDC staff have been provided educational guidance on how to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19.

  • What happens if an inmate tests positive?

    In the case of a positive test result for COVID-19, FDC, in coordination with the county health department, initiates contact investigations and isolation and quarantine measures are taken in accordance with FDC’s infectious disease protocols, CDC and DOH recommendations.

    • Inmates in medical isolation, at infirmary or otherwise under ongoing medical care receive frequent health monitoring at the discretion of their treating clinician.
    • Symptomatic inmates will not be allowed to move in and out of their dormitory until they have been medically cleared by an onsite health professional.
    • Only essential staff will be allowed to enter the institution and no inmates will transfer in or out.
    • While inmates are in medical isolation or quarantine, they still have access to washrooms, showers and medical care. Meals are provided to the inmates within their housing units.

    An inmate’s treating clinician at the institution manages his or her care and can assess the needs of the patient as the care plan evolves. If an inmate needs outside medical care, they will receive it. FDC medical facilities are more extensive and complete than an outside general practitioner facility and include an infirmary, FDC hospital, pharmacy services and in-patient care units.

    Ensuring inmates incarcerated in Florida’s prisons receive all necessary medical and behavioral treatment is one of FDC’s core constitutional responsibilities. FDC assures 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.

  • Will FDC be releasing inmates early?

    FDC does not have the legal authority to release inmates prior to completion of their sentence. FDC ensures inmates serve their court-ordered sentence in accordance with Florida law. Information regarding conditional medical release can be found on the website of the Florida Commission on Offender Review.

  • Are inmates allowed to go about their normal schedules?

    FDC has modified inmate movement within institutions to limit the amount of social mixing between groups of inmates. For instance, inmates are now only dining, recreating and attending programming with inmates housed within their dorm. Every effort to limit dorms interacting with one another is being taken. Canteen services continue to be provided to the inmate population.

  • What is FDC doing to protect pregnant inmates?

    Specific guidance from the CDC is limited at this time. Education for inmates has been issued instructing them to wash their hands frequently and follow CDC guidelines for the prevention of the spread of infections:

    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • Let a member of the staff know if you or someone you know has symptoms including a fever and cough or shortness of breath.

    FDC has an outbreak management plan and has implemented measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. All state prisons and facilities are bolstering response readiness by educating and encouraging social distancing and initiating additional cleaning measures.

  • Are you enforcing screening protocols for inmates in work release programs?

    Inmates assigned to work release will continue their work assignments. Inmates have been advised regarding CDC guidelines for social distancing, hand washing and increased cleaning. Upon returning to the facility after their work assignment, inmates will undergo screening for entrance into the facility. If an inmate fails the screening protocol, they will be placed in a separated area to avoid possible transmission of COVID-19 to other inmates and staff and immediately be referred to FDC’s Health Services.

  • Have there been any changes within community corrections?

    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. See the steps FDC Community Corrections is taking to keep offenders and staff safe here.

COVID-19 Homepage Click Here.