COVID‑19 Response Efforts

We take the health and safety of all those who live and work in our state prisons very seriously and will continue to work diligently to address the COVID-19 pandemic with transparency.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

The health and safety of our population is of critical importance to CDCR and CCHCS. 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 publicly available as it contains personal health care information protected by medical privacy laws.

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 not apply 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 activities in cohorts 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 non-institutional 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.

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.

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.

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.

(Visit CDCR’s visiting page.)