Correctional and detention facilities

Last updated on June 30, 2022.

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Congregate living and working facilities, such as correctional and detention facilities, have potential for rapid and widespread transmission of COVID-19. Correctional and detention facilities should follow CDC’s Guidance on the Prevention and Management of COVID-19 in Correctional and Detention Facilities. Contact your local public health agency or the Priority Populations Team at CDPHE (cdphe_priority_congregate_settings@state.co.us) with any questions regarding this guidance or infection prevention measures for your facility. 

 

Frequently asked questions

Public Health Order 20-38 outlines requirements for masking in prisons, jails, and community corrections programs and facilities in Colorado. In addition, CDC’s Guidance on the Prevention and Management of COVID-19 in Correctional and Detention Facilities has additional masking recommendations.

Public Health Order 20-38 strongly encourages unvaccinated and not fully vaccinated staff to participate in routine COVID-19 testing, but does not require it. CDC’s Guidance on the Prevention and Management of COVID-19 in Correctional and Detention Facilities also outlines recommendations for testing in prisons, jails, community corrections programs and facilities.

Correctional and detention facilities should use the available test type with the greatest accuracy based on test sensitivity, specificity, and logistical considerations such as turnaround times. Tests run in a laboratory such as nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) (e.g., laboratory-based PCR) are preferred, but point of care (POC) NAATs (e.g., Cue, Abbott ID NOW, Cepheid Xpert Xpress) and rapid antigen tests (e.g., Abbott BinaxNOW, iHealth) are acceptable in some situations. If laboratory-based NAATs are not available or test turnaround times are prohibitive to timely decision-making, then greater reliance on POC testing may be temporarily necessary. CDC’s Guidance on the Prevention and Management of COVID-19 in Correctional and Detention Facilities has additional information on testing.

Only residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 should be housed together as a cohort. Do not cohort those with confirmed COVID-19 together with those with suspected COVID-19, with close contacts of people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, or with those with other illnesses. Refer to CDC’s Guidance on the Prevention and Management of COVID-19 in Correctional and Detention Facilities for additional information on testing and cohorting. Contact your local public health agency or the Priority Populations Team at CDPHE (cdphe_priority_congregate_settings@state.co.us) if you have questions.

Refer to the confirmatory testing recommendations table below for guidance on when point of care (POC) antigen tests should be confirmed with a laboratory-based NAAT (e.g., laboratory-based RT-PCR). Ideally, confirmatory test samples should be collected at the same time as POC test samples and must be collected within 48 hours of the initial sample. If laboratory-based NAATs are not available or test turnaround times are prohibitive to timely decision-making, then greater reliance on POC testing may be temporarily necessary.

Confirmatory testing recommendations
Point of Care (POC) test Result 
(for example, BinaxNOW test result)
Low pretest probability 
(for example, asymptomatic, no close contact, and low community level)
High pretest probability
(for example, symptomatic, close contact, facility outbreak, or medium or high community level)
Positive Confirmatory laboratory-based NAAT testing recommended. Confirmatory laboratory-based NAAT testing might be recommended if cohorting*.
Negative Confirmatory laboratory-based NAAT testing not necessary. Confirmatory laboratory-based NAAT testing recommended.

*Per CDC, either antigen or PCR testing is ok for making cohorting decisions. Facilities may choose to stay on the more conservative side (PCR) if the people they’re considering cohorting are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (to make sure they really are positive before they are housed with other people who are positive), but some facilities don’t have the space to house people individually.

Consult your local public health agency or the Priority Populations Team at CDPHE (cdphe_priority_congregate_settings@state.co.us) if you have questions regarding discordant test results (tests that give different results for the same person).

PPE requirements vary based on the person’s role in specimen collection and how close they are to the person being tested. The following websites provide guidance for the appropriate PPE during specimen collection.

Correctional and detention facilities providing health care services should consult CDC’s Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Healthcare Personnel during the COVID-19 Pandemic for guidance on recommended infection prevention and control strategies for patient care. In addition, CDC’s Interim Guidance for Managing Healthcare Personnel with SAR-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 can provide information regarding infection or exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in health care workers. Non-health care workers who are performing the duties or functions of a health care worker should also follow these guidelines while performing these duties.

Residents of community corrections who work in the community can follow isolation and quarantine guidelines followed by their workplace while at work. However, when at the community corrections facility, residents should follow the isolation and quarantine guidelines for correctional settings.

CDPHE's COVID-19 Treatments webpage has the latest information regarding COVID-19 treatments in Colorado. Early testing and evaluation by a health care provider for COVID-19 treatments is especially important.