The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge to the public health of our nation. People incarcerated in our nation’s 5,000 jails and prisons face particular threat, and their vulnerability may impact the success of our overall national response. To address this uncharted challenge, COCHS is dedicating this page to available resources and proposals of COCHS and partner organizations.

( COCHS is aware that stakeholders from the different backgrounds of corrections, healthcare, and policy may be unfamiliar with terminology from each other's area of expertise. In 2012 COCHS released a glossary, Speaking the Same Language: Criminal Justice, Health Care, and Information Technology, which might be helpful in clarifying technical terms.)

COCHS & VERA COVID-19 Guidance
In partnership with the Vera Institute of Justice, COCHS and Vera have released five briefs that provide guidance to government actors on how they should respond to the Coronavirus to keep justice-involved people, system practitioners, and our communities healthy and safe.
CDC COVID-19 Guidance For Correctional Facilities and Detention Centers
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published on its website guidance on the management of COVID-19 for healthcare and non-healthcare administrators of correctional, detention facilities and law enforcement agencies that have custodial authority for detained populations. It should be noted, that in response to this guidance, more than 500 medical experts sent a letter to the CDC requesting that the guidance include recommendations for the depopulation of prisons, jails and immigration detention centers. Both the CDC's guidance and the letter from the medical experts are available below.
Resources from COCHS & Partner Organizations

COCHS continuously tracks resources available and proposals advanced by partner organizations. Below are links to some of our partners' important contributions in confronting this pandemic.

Congress Must Respond to Deep Health Inequities for Black People During COVID-19: Medicaid is the Lever
Community Catalyst and National Medical Association
Community Catalyst and National Medical Association has prepared a policy paper on actions the United States Congress can take to acknowledge the structural inequities of our health care system by investing in what people need during a health crisis that threatens their security. These include: invest in the Medicaid program, invest in Medicaid providers, incentivize states to expand Medicaid, support Medicaid connections in reentry, and extend Medicaid postpartum to reduce mortality.
Bringing Health Care to People Leaving the Criminal Justice System Through In-Reach Programs
Commonwealth Fund
The coronavirus pandemic has complicated how people in the criminal justice system receive health care. Most of the biggest outbreaks of COVID-19 are in correctional facilities. In May, the House of Representatives introduced a bill to allow Medicaid to cover services provided to incarcerated people 30 days before their release from prison or jail, but the Senate has yet to act. Several states have sought permission to have Medicaid cover COVID-19 testing and treatment for individuals incarcerated in jails and prisons with matching federal funds; however, none of these request have been approved to date.
States Could Save Lives by Expanding Compassionate Release during COVID-19 and Beyond
Urban Institute
One immediate way to protect people in prison and prevent the spread of the coronavirus is to substantially reduce (PDF) the prison population. Media’s attention has been on the federal government’s failed response in federal prisons, but scant attention has been paid to state prisons. Some prisons have started doing so, trailing behind efforts by jails, but it is not enough. Further, these releases have increased racial disparities; states such as Illinois are releasing Black people from prison at lower rates than their white counterparts.
Addressing the Justice-Involved Population in Coronavirus Response Efforts
Kaiser Family Foundation
This brief provides an overview of health risks for the justice-involved population, discusses the role Medicaid can play in response efforts for justice-involved individuals, and identifies other steps states and localities can take to mitigate risk and spread of coronavirus among this population to protect and promote public health.
Map of News Stories of COVID-19 Outbreaks Within Correctional Facilities
COCHS now offers an interactive map which allows quick way to access current COVID-19 statistics posted by each state's departments of corrections. Many of these pages are being updated on a daily basis. At the moment 36 states are providing statistics about COVID-19 cases. The supplied data are in multiple formats: tables, PDFs, or a simple posting of confirmed cases.
Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic
Prison Policy Initiative
Prison Policy Initiative is tracking examples of state and local agencies taking meaningful steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. This page contains multiple links to reports of jurisdictions that are releasing inmates, reducing jail and prison admissions, reducing incarceration and unnecessary face-to-face contact for people on parole and probation, eliminating medical co-pays, and reducing the cost of phone and video calls.
Map of News Stories of COVID-19 Outbreaks Within Correctional Facilities
COVID-19 Behind Bars
COVID-19 Behind Bars is an independent journalism project tracking jails, prisons, detention centers, and other facilities of incarceration impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. On this site you will find a world map with markers that link to news stories of COVID-19 reports in specific correctional institutions.
Study of COVID-19 in Correctional Facilities
NCCHC and Harvard Kennedy School
NCCHC and researchers from Harvard University are working together to gather information on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting correctional facilities. NCCHC has a page on its website devoted to this where there are multiple links to PDFs that contain statistics about COVID-19 from a state and regional perspective. The data are presented in the following formats: graphs, tables, and maps.
Inmate COVID-19 testing in federal correctional institutions
Correctional Service of Canada
Our neighbor from the north, Canada, is providing detailed statistics from its multiple facilites in each providence. The tables are be updated on a regular basis and are presented in a concise, comprehensible format.
COVID–19 Incarceration Model
As COVID-19 spreads, state and local government leaders are on the front-lines of managing the response. recidiviz has created an on-line tool to help criminal justice decision makers understand how the incarcerated population is likely to interact with the public health system as the pandemic spreads.
COVID-19 Coronavirus: What You Need to Know in Corrections
The National Commission on Correctional Health Care's website is providing a list of resources for correctional institutions confronting the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Should Prisons and Jails Prepare for COVID-19?
Urban Institute
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Urban Institute is advancing strategies as well as considerations and implications for policymakers and correctional leadership in local jurisdictions to keep in mind when developing plans for the health of incarcerated populations.