For People Living in Prisons and Jails
Protect yourself from getting sick with COVID-19.
This resource contains recommendations for people living in prisons and jails. CDC acknowledges it may be difficult to maintain physical distancing and avoid crowds in these settings.
- 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 do not show symptoms.
- Staff or visitors may have the virus and not know it.
- Many people who have COVID-19 do not feel sick.
- People who feel sick may experience signs and symptoms that include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or having a hard time breathing
- Feeling tired
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion (stuffy) or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
How COVID-19 Spreads
People at Risk For COVID-19
- Anyone can get infected.
- If you have any of the health issues below, you are more likely to get severe COVID-19. It is very important to protect yourself, including and staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines.
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic lung diseases
- Dementia or other neurological conditions
- Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
- Down syndrome
- Heart problems
- HIV infection
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
- Mental health conditions
- Overweight and obesity
- Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
- Smoking (current or former)
- Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
- Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
- Substance use disorders
- You are also more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 if you are
Protect Yourself and Others
- Get vaccinated and stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines can help keep you from getting sick, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19.
- Avoid crowds and try to physically distance yourself as much as possible, including during these activities:
- Recreation, especially when inside
- Mealtime (if in a dining area with people from other units)
- Walking in hallways
- Wear a well-fitting mask that covers your nose and mouth, especially when around staff or people from a different housing unit.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not immediately available.
- 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
- Go outside for your recreation time if you can.
- Sleep head to foot if there is more than one bed in a room.
- If visitors are allowed, your visitors may be screened for COVID-19 and asked to wear a mask.
- Your 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 in case they become sick.
- This room may be a single cell or a large area with others.
- Quarantine helps prevent you from getting or spreading the virus to others.
What to Do if You Feel Sick
- Tell a correctional officer or other 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 assigned to a quarantine area in case 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 to test positive.
- You may be tested again to make sure you are not infected.
Additional Resources from CDC
Visit CDC’s COVID-19 website for more information on the following topics: