Important update: Healthcare facilities
CDC has updated select ways to operate healthcare systems effectively in response to COVID-19 vaccination. Learn more
To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, get vaccinated as soon as you can and wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
UPDATE
Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.

For People Living in Prisons and Jails

For People Living in Prisons and Jails

COVID-19 is an illness caused by a virus (SARS-CoV-2) that spreads easily from person-to-person. It is important to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 because it can make you very sick.*

Living in prisons and jails puts you at higher risk for getting COVID-19 because:
  • It may be hard to stay at least 6 feet away (2 arm lengths), also called physical distancing, from other people.
  • There may not be enough space to keep people with COVID-19 away from others.
  • You may be sharing space with someone who has the virus and does not know it, because they are not coughing or showing other symptoms.
  • Staff or visitors may have the virus and not know it.

About COVID-19

  • Many people who have COVID-19 do not feel sick.
  • For those who do feel sick, some signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include:

    Fever/chills
    Coughing
    Feeling tired
    Having a hard time breathing
    Pain in the head or body

    New loss of taste or smell
    Sore throat
    Stuffy or runny nose
    Nausea/vomiting
    Diarrhea

How COVID-19 Spreads

If physical distancing is not maintained, the virus may spread when a person with COVID-19 breathes, coughs, sneezes, talks, or sings.

  • Droplets are formed when you breathe. These droplets can contain the virus. If people nearby breathe in the droplets, then they can get infected.
  • Sometimes, droplets can stay in the air for minutes to hours and infect someone more than 6 feet away.
  • Droplets can stay in the air for minutes to hours. Droplets can also infect someone more than 6 feet away.
  • Less commonly, people may get infected by the virus by touching something with the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.

 People at Risk For COVID-19

If you have any of these health issues, it is more important than ever to protect yourself and get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.

Protect Yourself and Others

  • Vaccines may keep you from getting sick, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19. Get a vaccine as soon as you can.
  • Maintaining physical distance can protect you from different types of COVID-19 (e.g., Delta).
    • Avoid crowds as much as possible, and try to distance yourself during:
      • Recreation, especially when inside
      • Mealtime (if in a dining area with people from other units)
      • Walking in hallways
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, especially when around staff or people from a different housing unit.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds**:
    • After touching your mask
    • Before touching your face
    • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
    • After using the bathroom
    • Before eating
    • Before and after making food
    • Before taking medicine

Common Spaces

  • Go outside for your recreation time if you can.
  • Sleep head to foot if there is more than one bed in a room. This gives you more space between your face and others around you.
  • If visitors are allowed, visitors may be screened for COVID-19 and asked to wear a mask. Visitors may not be able to enter the building if they do not clear the screening process (for example, a temperature check), or if they decline to be screened.

If You Were Near Someone with COVID-19

  • You may be tested for the virus even if you do not feel sick.
  • You may be sent to an area away from others. This is called quarantine.
    • Quarantine separates people who were exposed to COVID-19 to see if they become sick.
    • This room may be a single cell or a large area with others.
    • Quarantine helps protect you from getting or spreading the virus to others.

What to Do if You Feel Sick

  • Tell a correctional officer or staff member if you feel sick so you can get medical care.
  • You may be sent to an area by yourself. This is called medical isolation.
    • Medical isolation separates people who may have COVID-19 from people who are not sick. This is so you don’t get others sick.
    • This room may be a single cell or a large area with others who are also sick.
    • Medical isolation is not to punish you.
  • You may be tested for COVID-19.
    • If your test is positive, showing you have COVID-19, you will need to stay in medical isolation for at least 10 days.
    • If your test is negative, but you were near someone with COVID-19, you may be sent to a quarantine area to see if you develop COVID-19.
      • A negative test result means that you probably did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing or that it was too early in your infection.
      • You could be exposed to COVID-19 after being tested.
      • You may be tested again.

Resources

  • Visit CDC’s How to Protect Yourself & Others webpage for more information on the important ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • It is natural to feel stress, grief and worry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Refer to CDC’s Coping with Stress webpage for more details on how you can help yourself and others manage stress.

*This webpage contains recommendations for people in prisons and jails. CDC acknowledges it may be difficult to maintain physical distancing and avoid crowds in these settings.

** If available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not immediately available (for details see How to Protect Yourself & Others).