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Coronavirus and the DOC

Last updated 9:00am, March 31, 2020

DOC COVID-19 Dashboard

The DOC is taking new measures at its facilities to mitigate COVID-19 including:

Inmates

  • To date, one inmate has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • All visitation was suspended effective March 13.  Visits are suspended through April 10.
    • Attorneys and select members of the PA Prison Society are permitted access if they pass the enhanced screening.
  • Authorized visitors and inmates can participate in a new video visitation program that allows visitors to participate from home
  • All inmates will receive 5 free 15-minute phone calls and 5 free emails per week.
  • Effective April 1, all inmates will receive free cable TV in their cells. Inmates without a TV can still buy one from the commissary.
  • Each inmate will be permitted (without cost) to mail 12, one-ounce first class letters per month.
  • Activities departments  have increased activity opportunities.
  • Commissary caps have increased from $70 per week to $100 per week.
  • Town Hall meetings are being held to educate inmates on COVID-19
  • Secretary Wetzel recorded an informational video to be posted on the inmate channel for all inmates.
  • All inmates are being screened coming in and going out.
  • All new inmates are being screened before being admitted into prison. We are not releasing any inmates without screening for symptoms. 
  • Inmates who have flu-like symptoms from counties will not be accepted. All inmates leaving our facilities (parolees, max outs, movements, etc.) will be screened.
  • Medical co-pays have been waived for any inmate with influenza like illness (ILI).
  • Inmates have been provided with disposable masks and are strongly encouraged to utilize them.
  • Inmates are being provided materials to clean their cell daily. Materials will be provided to them on a daily basis.

Staff

  • Each facility is conducting enhanced screening for all individuals entering a facility. No one will be permitted to enter a facility who has a fever over 100.4 or exhibits signs of cold or flu.
  • Masks are required for all staff and institutions have provided each staff member with a cloth mask for use. Employees are permitted to provide their own mask similar to the ones the facility is handing out.
  • Daily updates are emailed to ALL staff to mitigate rumors and provide up-to-date information.
  • Personal Protection Equipment is provided to all staff.  Masks are being manufactured by Correctional Industries.  All CDC and DOH protocols are being followed in reference to masking.

Sanitation

  • Institutions are holding town hall meetings with their inmate population to review sanitation guidelines and COVID-19 information for awareness. These meetings are conducted with institutions safety manager and infectious control nurse.  Inmates are being educated on prevention/ mitigation efforts.
  • Sanitation has increased all throughout the SCI, including housing units and cells.
  • Provided all staff with a vehicle sanitation plan explaining how to clean all vehicles.
  • Correctional Industries increased production of anti-bacterial soap to ensure all inmates and staff have sufficient supply throughout the institution.  Soap is provided free of charge to inmates.
  • Directed all equipment (radios, OC, etc.) to be cleaned after each shift and throughout the day.

SCIs

  • Every SCI has plans in place for quarantine if an inmate tests positive
  • SCI Laurel Highlands and SCI Waymart will not be accepting new inmates. This has been expanded to include SCI-Fayette, which houses oncology.
  • Parole violators should be returned to only 3 pre-determined SCIs
  • Institutions will continue food services, groups, religious services, and activities. We will evaluate each institution on a case-by-case basis on whether this needs to change.
  • All SCIs will identify vulnerable population to keep them isolated.
  • Monitoring sick-call and staff health and advising employees to stay home if they are sick.
  • Postponing audits, inspections and reentry job fairs that were scheduled for March and April.
  • All training at the DOC Training Academy—outside of basic training and the inmate culinary academy—has ceased as of March 16.
  • Pennsylvania Correctional Industries is increasing manufacturing capabilities.
    • PCI is manufacturing anti-bacterial soap and masks.
  • All gyms and barber shops/cosmetology are closed until further notice.
  • The general libraries will be closed for inmates, but they can request books and have books delivered to them. The legal libraries will remain open as normal. Legal libraries will be prioritized based on most critical need.

Parole/Field/Reentry

  • All parole hearings will continue as scheduled and follow the existing process.
  • Bureau of Community Corrections is furloughing eligible reentrants.
  • Community Corrections has implemented additional sanitation efforts.
  • Community Corrections staff and reentrants are undergoing enhanced screening.
  • Field agents have increased contacts via technology.
  • Agents are equipped with PPE to use if necessary.

New measures will be enacted when the need arises and as the situation develops. For the most accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, follow the PA Department of Health.

​Awareness Tools

Courtesy of the PA Department of Health


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