NDOC COVID-19 Updates

The Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) is working closely with local and state public health officials to prepare for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), with the top priority being the health of staff and offenders at our facilities. The plan of our ongoing public health response is to detect and rapidly contain introductions of this virus with the goal of delaying and ultimately preventing sustained spread of COVID-19.  

NDOC completed a statewide testing initiative in June during which it tested all offenders - approximately 12,368 - for COVID-19. Of those tested, only 18 – or .15% of all offenders – have tested positive for the virus, one of the lowest rates in the nation.

“Nevada’s goal has been to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 through rigorous testing and the implementation of deliberate and pro-active protocols,” said Governor Steve Sisolak. “Our state’s testing initiative is the result of a successful partnership between NDOC, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory to test one of our state’s most vulnerable populations.” 

“The very low number of offenders testing positive is a testament to the strength of the firewall NDOC established to stop the spread of the virus,” said Charles Daniels, NDOC Director. “Our custody staff implemented pro-active procedures to ensure the safety of everyone at our facilities, while our medical staff worked tirelessly to test offenders and provide appropriate medical care. This has been a team effort and I could not be prouder.”

In response to COVID-19, NDOC has implemented the following protocols: 

    1. Running modified operations that limit travel between facilities and restricted visitation at all facilities. This will be in-place until corrections and medical experts at NDOC, working alongside local and state government agencies, determine that the health and safety of staff and offenders are no longer threatened by COVID-19.

    2. Each morning, all employees are being screened for symptoms of the virus, including having their temperature taken. Anyone found with one of the cardinal symptoms (fever of 100 degrees F or greater, shortness of breath, dry cough, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell) are sent home where they must obtain medical clearance or test negative for COVID-19 before returning to work.

    3. All personnel who do enter a secure facility are required to wear a face covering.

    4. Testing new arrivals at the intake units at High Desert State Prison and Northern Nevada Correctional Center for COVID-19, and isolating offenders who test positive in negative airflow cells.

    5. The dissemination of the latest CDC guidance for staff and offenders, including the Center of Disease Control's  Stop the Spread of Germs poster, in highly visible areas. 

    6. Surface Sanitation Teams, using a 10% bleach concentration, thoroughly clean surfaces at all facilities.

    7. Hand soap is readily available at every facility, both in cells and in common areas. NDOC encourages all persons to frequently wash their hands using warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

    8. Prison Industries is manufacturing hand sanitizer, medical gowns, and face coverings to ensure NDOC staff have access to these critical supplies. PI is also manufacturing alcohol-free hand sanitizer and face coverings for offenders.

    9. If an offender is suspected of having an illness, or if they self-report feeling ill, NDOC medical staff immediately assess and place them in that facility's infirmary or medically observes them in their cell. NDOC also alerts Culinary so meals are delivered to the offenders while they're in the infirmary or their cell.

    10. NDOC's Medical Director determined that, in the interest of public, staff, and offender safety, all NDOC staff be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks. This robust and mandatory testing initiative started August 3, 2020 and occurs at the facility where the staff member works. The testing schedule is subject to change depending on COVID-19 trends.

 

In Response to COVID-19, NDOC has instituted the following:

Eligible offenders receive two free phone callsDocument is compliant. Select if any issues - two free phone calls to mitigate the impact of the suspension of visitation and stay connected with families and friends. Eligible offenders receive a discounted rate for sending secure instant messaging (not including photos).  

Offenders are provided distance learning educationDocument is compliant. Select if any issues - distance learning education thanks to a partnership between NDOC and Nevada's adult and post-secondary education providers.

Distribution of 22,000 face coverings statewide to offenders to reduce the likelihood of an asymptomatic COVID-19 carrier passing the virus to others. Face covering distribution was done in conjunction with new security guidelines that ensure public safety goals are fully met.

NDOC leadership, including Director Charles Daniels and the deputy directors of industries, operations, programs, and support services regularly host townhalls to provide accurate and current information. Wardens host twice-weekly townhalls at their facilities.

As a reminder, NDOC does not have statutory authority to early release offenders.

In February 2020, NDOC added COVID-19 to Medical Directive 231: Communicable Diseases, along with guidance to custody and medical staff for proper procedures for the housing, transportation, and release due to expiration of sentence or parole of NDOC offenders with communicable diseases. NDOC has also continuously reviewed Medical Directive 211: Notification of Inmates with Infectious Diseases as new information about COVID-19 is released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control. 

To inform Nevadans, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Governor's Office have created a COVID-19 website to share information and resources as it pertains to the current status of the coronavirus and its impact within the State of Nevada. DHHS has also launched a daily report of the # of positive cases at facilities throughout Nevada, including NDOC facilities. Please view this report, which is updated daily, to track the number of positive cases at NDOC.