This post was written by Blanche Carney, Commissioner, Philadelphia Department of Prisons


The health and well-being of our staff, colleagues, and inmates is our top priority.  We continue to closely monitor the updates regarding COVID-19 from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and PDPH (Philadelphia Department of Public Health).

For current and total COVID-19 case count, go to the Testing & Data page of phila.gov/COVID-19.

In an effort to be proactive in safeguarding the welfare of everyone at the PDP we will be instituting routine symptom screening measures for COVID-19 at the point of entry into every facility.

  • Every employee/vendor/attorney/etc. (“Employees”) will be screened every time he/she enters a Philadelphia Department of Prisons facility.
  • The screening will be for significant symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Screening personnel will be available in each facility 24/7.
  • When entering a PDP facility Employees will be asked to tell these medical personnel if they have a fever, dry cough or shortness of breath.
  • Medical personnel will also check each Employee’s temperature using a hand held, infrared temporal artery thermometer — often sold as “forehead thermometers”. No physical contact is needed to check temperatures.
  • Personal Protective Equipment is being issued to staff.

Employees who are symptomatic or have a fever will be directed to return home for fourteen days and to contact their primary care provider.

Official visitors (attorneys) will be granted entry to PDP if their client is not symptomatic.

PDP enacted our protocol and will continue working with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health regarding all COVID-19 related matters.  As such, we are ensuring our protocol of assessing for symptoms of the population and thermo scanning of all employees continues.  Tracing will be done to assess any staff or inmate who were within 6 feet of the positive staff person for more than 10 minutes, which are the CDC guidelines.  The staff person with the virus will remain in isolation until after any symptoms resolve, and any other persons who were exposed according to the CDC guidelines will self-quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure.

For HIPAA privacy reasons, the Department of Public Health is not releasing information about any individuals in Philadelphia who have tested positive, regardless of their status or location.  This applies as well to anyone under investigation for COVID-19.

For confirmed cases in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons, we will properly address all of the people potentially exposed, as we do in any other situation.