COVID‑19 Response Efforts

Updated as of Jan. 26, 2023

Board of Parole Hearings/Parole Suitability Hearings

Due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) has been holding parole suitability hearings via video and telephone conference since April 2020. BPH continues holding parole suitability hearings via video and telephone conference until further notice.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 24 executive order ceased in-person parole hearings for 60 days, and granted the Secretary the authority to extend the prohibition by 30 days in order to protect the health and welfare of incarcerated people, board officers, legal counsel, and victims’ representatives. All affected parole-hearing participants are notified. 

Board of Juvenile Hearings proceedings will take place as scheduled via video conference only.

For more information, click here.

California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA)

Since the pandemic hit our community, CDCR and CALPIA have been strongly committed to responding to this public health emergency and to protecting both staff and the incarcerated population.

CALPIA takes the health and safety of our staff and incarcerated workforce very seriously and we value everyone working in our enterprises. CALPIA protects workers and follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in addressing COVID-19.

CALPIA is slowly reopening its enterprises and programs to meet CDC, CDPH, and local county guidelines and ordinances. 

Throughout the pandemic, CALPIA continued to operate essential enterprises like food services, laundry, chemical, health care facilities maintenance and other essential services.

All CALPIA staff and incarcerated individuals participating in CALPIA’s programs have been offered the COVID-19 vaccine and continue to follow CDCR and CCHCS protocols for testing and screening.  

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All incarcerated persons shall be provided at least two disposable procedure masks per week to replace the cloth masks previously distributed.

Effective January 24, 2022, all incarcerated persons will be offered one  unaltered KN-95 respirator per week, which they can choose to wear for enhanced protection. The KN-95 respirator or procedure mask are preferred, rather than the cloth face covering.

Incarcerated persons who have work assignments in isolation or quarantine areas must wear an N-95 while at work, and be fit-tested to ensure it is worn properly. They will be provided N-95 replacements at the beginning of each work shift and as often as needed or requested.

N95 masking

All civil service employees and contractors who enter or work in isolation or quarantine areas must be fit tested and wear an N95 mask at all times. This includes transportation staff while transporting isolation or quarantine patients (a KN95 must be worn for all other transfers).

The N95/KN95 mask requirement applies to all employees and contractors regardless of vaccination/booster status. N95/KN95 masks are readily available at each institution/facility and shall be provided to staff when requested.

Exceptions to masking requirements apply as follows:
1) While actively eating or drinking, if a minimum of six feet of physical distance is
maintained from all other individuals.
2) When alone in an office with the door closed.
3) When alone in a tower or enclosed control booth with no other individuals present.
4) When outdoors, if a minimum of six feet of physical distance is maintained from all other individuals. An appropriate mask shall be kept on person at all times and shall be worn
walking or standing within six feet of others.

Required personal protective equipment is provided during required close-contact health care procedures.

Conservation Camp Program

The health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff continues to be our top priority. We will continue to work with our partners during this pandemic to balance that priority with being able to provide assistance to California’s wildfire prevention and response efforts.

California Correctional Center and Sierra Conservation Center continue to transfer incarcerated fire crew members to northern and southern region fire camps in a limited capacity. These transfers are occurring in accordance with the CDCR/CCHCS Movement Matrix. The incarcerated population who are not vaccinated or do not have an approved religious or medical exemption are ineligible for camp placement.

If an incarcerated fire crew member is suspected or confirmed to be positive for COVID-19, they are transported to the closest appropriate institution with celled housing for quarantine/isolation placement. Additionally, when a conservation camp is placed on quarantine, the incarcerated population housed at the camp will receive COVID-19 testing and daily healthcare screenings from nursing staff.

Camps continue to complete community service projects when not fighting fires; which include clearing brush and fallen trees, maintaining parks, and reforestation. Currently, individual projects are being completed on a case-by-case basis after review and approval by the camp captain to ensure health and safety guidance to address COVID-19 can be followed.

County jail intake

In an abundance of caution, and in collaboration with counties, the medical clearance process prior to transfer includes COVID-19 testing and symptom screening prior to transfer, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) during transfer, and a quarantine period upon arrival. All movement is being directed by the Patient Movement Matrix. CDCR will continuously evaluate this process and will increase, decrease, or suspend intake in accordance with health care and public health guidance.

Division of Adult Parole Operations

In order to protect the health and safety of California families and communities during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) is continuing to use adjusted supervision protocols as directed by health care and public health professionals.

Home Visits:

  • Home visits have resumed, but in a modified form.
  • Parole agents will usually not enter parolees’ homes but instead make contact at the front door,
  • Parolees and agents will practice physical distancing,
  • Parole agents maintain the authority to conduct anti-narcotic testing when necessary to maintain public safety; even though routine drug-testing is currently suspended
  • Agents may make telephonic contact or use other technology to keep in contact with parolees

Office visits:

  • DAPO will continue minimizing in-person parole office reporting
  • DAPO will continue to follow physical distancing guidelines.
  • All DAPO personnel and parolees must undergo screenings before entering a parole office.
  • Office visits with parolees will continue to be limited to:

–  initial / comprehensive interviews,    

–  critical needs,

–  statutory requirements/duties and

–  emergencies.

  • Parolees who must register per sex offender laws, are homeless, or do not have access to a telephone must report to the parole office in-person.
  • At the discretion of the agent, telephonic contact or other forms of contact through technology may be utilized for those who are sick or considered high-risk (i.e. 65 years and older, chronic health conditions).

General reporting:

Please note that COVID-19 infection rates will vary by counties, DAPO may find it necessary to impose tighter or more lax protocols in keeping with infection risks in different locations.

Any questions parolees may have related to COVID-19 prevention efforts should be directed to their Parole Agent. Contact:
Northern Region Directory
Southern Region Directory

Division of Juvenile Justice

For the latest on steps DJJ is taking to protect youth from COVID-19, visit the DJJ Roadmap to Recovery Page, here.

Flu Vaccine Awareness

With flu season coinciding with a rise in COVID-19 cases across a large portion of the country, getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever. CDCR and CCHCS raised flu vaccine awareness throughout the season with posters, videos on the DRP-TV Wellness channel. An FAQ of common questions about the Flu Vaccine was also made available to inmates.

Health care services

The health and safety of our population is of critical importance to CDCR and CCHCS. While our agency is working together to prepare for and respond to COVID-19, we will continue to provide urgent health care services. To reduce risks to both patients and staff. Additionally, some specialty and routine care has been delayed as a result of both internal redirections and external closures. All canceled appointments will be rescheduled as soon as safely possible. Health care staff will continue to see and treat patients through the 7362 process.

CCHCS has issued COVID-19: Interim Guidance for Health Care and Public Health Providers. This document provides clinical guidelines related to testing, quarantine and isolation housing, and treatment to public health and health care providers in response to COVID-19 cases in the California prison system.

CDCR and CCHCS have launched an internal patient registry to assist institutions in monitoring patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. The COVID-19 Registry also tracks all individuals by risk.  The registry is updated twice daily and draws from multiple data sources, including the electronic health record system, claims data, and the Strategic Offender Management System to compile risk factor data.  This registry also includes release date information for each individual, in the event that individuals are to be considered for early release during the pandemic. This tool is not publically available as it contains personal health care information protected by medical privacy laws.

Hiring and Academies

CDCR has implemented a series of measures to keep staff, correctional officer cadets and candidates safe during the application, screening, and Basic Correctional Officer Academy.  The Office of Peace Officer Selection has options available for online exams, and interview processes.  Masks are available upon request for in-person exams and interviews. 

We strongly encourage cadets to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before attending the Academy. Cadets are provided masks upon request.  Classrooms and common areas are being cleaned frequently.

Mental Health Delivery Services

The well-being and safety of the incarcerated population and staff within CDCR and CCHCS is our top priority. We understand how vitally important it is to deliver comprehensive mental health services within our institutions at all times, but especially during these extraordinary times of heightened uncertainty.

To mitigate potential spread of COVID-19 within California’s prisons, we have implemented a series of precautionary measures to limit movement of both staff and the incarcerated population between and throughout institutions, while the department’s dedicated team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and nursing staff have worked tirelessly to continue to provide mental health delivery services. These include: limiting the number of participants in group programs to allow for physical distancing, issuing medication directly to patients in the living areas, providing mental health check-ins to patients during COVID-19 health care screenings that occur multiple times daily, and increasing our use of telehealth where group programs have been limited. 

To limit the disruption of mental health service delivery for those institutions with none, or very few cases, where possible, we have adjusted group therapy services so they may be held with physical distancing measures in place. The incarcerated population is required to wear their cloth facial barriers while moving to and from these sessions. Staff are also required to wear facial barriers while on institution grounds.

To address the reduction of group therapy sessions available in some institutions, the department has increased the use of in-cell activities and telehealth where mental health services can be provided via live video chat with a clinician directly to the patient’s cell.

For those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and placed in medical isolation, CDCR and CCHCS continue to offer mental health check-ins directly to the patient at least twice daily. Staff are required to wear all personal protective equipment (PPE) recommended by state and national public health and health care directives when providing mental health check-ins.

For those mental health patients identified on quarantine status due to a potential COVID-19 exposure, mental health staff are providing services within the patient’s housing unit where they can protect patient confidentiality and provide services on a one-on-one basis. Staff and patients must wear required PPE while conducting these sessions.

CDCR and CCHCS understand the emergent nature of mental health services. We work diligently to reduce instances of mental health crises among our population, but if one does occur we immediately address the patient’s needs. Those that express they are in distress or seek assistance are seen within 24 hours by a mental health professional to determine if the patient requires a higher level of care. If a patient is determined to require a higher level of care, CDCR and CCHCS are working diligently to follow all transfer timeline and placement requirements while also adhering to COVID-19 patient movement and transfer testing requirements. 

Modified Community Correctional Facilities and Community Reentry Programs

CDCR has resumed transfers into the Male Community Reentry Program (MCRP), the Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP), and the Alternative Custody Program (ACP), with protocols in place throughout to protect participants, staff, and the communities. Vaccination will not be required for transfer to these community re-entry programs.

Transfers to these programs are made using protocols outlined in the Movement Matrix. All transferring individuals and staff must wear an N95 respirator mask during transfer. CDCR works with each MCRP and CCTRP contractor to ensure they are following COVID-19 safety protocols, including physical distancing, disinfecting, and quarantine/isolation protocols for symptomatic or exposed participants. As part of these programs, incarcerated persons remain under the jurisdiction and responsibility of CDCR, to include ensuring any required medical attention is provided.

Rehabilitative Programs, Religious Services & Education

Guided by public health guidelines and CDCR’s reopening plan, all institutions are once again offering some rehabilitative programming.

As of Sept. 15, 2022, those housed in quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure may continue to program under the department’s new “Test-to-Program” initiative.

Under the “Test-to-Program” initiative, incarcerated persons who are in quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure may continue to program if the following conditions are met: 1. Incarcerated person consents to point-of-care (POC) COVID testing on days 1, 3, 5, and 7 of the quarantine period. 2. Each POC COVID test is negative. 3. They consistently wear at least a procedure mask while out of their housing cell.

Asymptomatic residents who test negative for COVID-19 are, while masked, able to work, and attend school, in-person visiting, religious services, library, canteen, yard and health care appointments including mental health groups and ISUDT programing. This initiative does notapply to overnight family visiting.

The “Test-to-Program” initiative remains dependent on staff resources to complete the required testing.

Should an incarcerated person refuse to test, which remains voluntary, they will be limited to in-wing, cohorted activities until they are cleared from exposure quarantine.

Please note, the “Test-to-Program” initiative only applies to those in quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure. It does not apply to those in quarantine due to movement/transfers.

POC testing provides results within 15 minutes or less of the test.

Sanitation & Hand Hygiene

All CDCR institutions have been instructed to conduct additional deep-cleaning efforts in high-traffic, high-volume areas, including visiting and health care facilities. Those in the incarcerated population identified as assisting with cleaning areas of the institution have received direct instruction on proper cleaning and disinfecting procedures in order to eliminate coronavirus.

Communal areas such as dayrooms, showers, restrooms and offices are cleaned between uses. Disinfecting frequency has been increased, including regular disinfecting of touch points (telephones, door knobs, desk areas, etc.). All cleaning practices will allow for physical distancing of staff and porters who are also provided ample cleaning supplies and protective equipment including gloves and masks.

Additionally, when a cell or bunk is vacated, the assigned porter shall be responsible for disinfecting the space. For restricted housing units, cleaning is performed by staff.

Staff screening and precautions

All staff and visitors entering CDCR correctional institutions will complete a daily self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms and exposures

Individuals may not enter a state prison or office building at any time if they are experiencing COVID-related symptoms not caused by a diagnosed health care condition; experiencing unexplained/unusual fatigue, muscle/body aches, headaches and have not been vaccinated within the last three days; are unvaccinated and have been in close contact with anyone known to have laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment in the last 14 days; or have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 10 days.

CDCR makes every effort to ensure staff do not enter areas where they are not assigned. In quarantined and or isolation areas, staff are required to wear additional PPE.  In addition, no staff assigned to the area is allowed to enter the quarantined or isolated area. 

Testing for Incarcerated Population

CDCR and CCHCS have a testing strategy that is consistent with guidance provided by federal and state public health experts. The strategy remains flexible as we continuously reassess the overall dynamic of this virus and respond accordingly to the needs of each unique institution.

Surveillance and COVID-19 exposure testing for the incarcerated population remains voluntary—however, we strongly suggest testing compliance to ensure the health and safety of all those who live and work in the institutions.

Please see the “COVID Screening and Testing Matrix for Patient Movement” for additional testing information for the incarcerated population. See section “Rehabilitative Programs, Religious Services, & Education” for additional testing strategies for programming during COVID-19 exposure quarantine.

To view data about statewide testing efforts, view the population case tracker. Detailed testing strategies for the incarcerated population can be found in the CCHCS Interim Guidance.

Testing for staff

The last day of the COVID-19 vaccine verification, weekly testing, and data reporting
requirements, which have been in effect since August 2, 2021, August 9, 2021, and
September 27, 2021, respectively, was September 16, 2022.

COVID-19 testing shall be limited to those who have symptoms, are identified as close contacts
of a person with COVID-19, and/or are exposed during an outbreak pursuant to the California
Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s COVID-19
Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards.

As a reminder, non-institutional CDCR/CCHCS/DJJ staff shall follow institutional testing protocols
when visiting or working in a CDCR institution or DJJ facility. Both institutional and noninstitutional testing protocols are constantly evaluated and will be revised based on most current
public health ordinances. CDCR, CCHCS and DJJ shall continue to assess conditions and may be
required to reinstate, as needed, higher levels of testing and mitigation strategies to limit the
spread of COVID-19 within our work locations.

Transportation/Receiving and Release protocols

All movement deemed essential that is happening within and throughout state prisons is guided by the CCHCS Patient Movement Matrix.

We are taking precautions necessary to increase physical distancing during these transportations, including significantly limiting the number of people in-transit per vehicle and have provided staff and incarcerated people at the institution with reusable cloth barrier masks to be worn during transportation.

COVID-19 Vaccine and Booster

CDCR/CCHCS have offered the vaccination to the incarcerated population and staff since December 2020. CCHCS is also offering booster shots to all eligible staff and the incarcerated population.

We have implemented the Aug. 19 CDPH order requiring vaccinations for staff and incarcerated workers in health care settings and are working to implement the Dec. 22 CDPH order mandating those in health care settings to receive the vaccine booster when eligible. 

On and after Feb. 2, 2022, the assignment for non-compliant registry providers, contractors, and applicable retired annuitants who have neither requested nor received a religious or reasonable medical accommodation will be ended.

You may see staff and population vaccination rates by institution on the Population Tracker.

Visiting and Communication

CDCR recognizes visiting is an important way to maintain family and community ties. At the same time, our first priority is the health and safety of those who live in and work in our facilities. For the latest on in-person and video visiting reservations and COVID-19 precautions, visit CDCR’s visiting page.