Over the course of 2021, the determination and commitment of our frontline employees has been tested like never before, as our facilities and programs have met the unprecedented challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic. We are incredibly proud of our employees, who have continued to make daily sacrifices and have remained committed to providing high-quality services and humane and compassionate care to all those entrusted to our facilities and programs.
COVID-19 MITIGATION INITIATIVES
We issued guidance to all our facilities, consistent with the guidance issued for correctional and detention facilities by the CDC.
- We increased testing capabilities at our U.S. Secure Services facilities and entered into contracts with multiple commercial labs to provide adequate testing supplies and services.
- We invested approximately $2 million to acquire 45 Abbott Rapid COVID-19 ID NOW devices and testing kits capable of diagnosing not only COVID-19, but also influenza and strep throat.
- As of the end of November 2022, we had administered nearly 300,000 COVID-19 tests to those in our care at our U.S. Secure Services facilities.
- We invested $3.7 million to install bi-polar ionization air purification systems at select U.S. Secure Services facilities to reduce the spread of airborne bacteria and viruses.
Facemasks and Personal Hygiene Products
- We have provided continuing access to facemasks to all inmates and detainees, with a minimum of three facemasks per week or more often upon request.
- We increased the frequency of distribution of personal hygiene products, including soap, shampoo and body wash, and tissue paper, and we are ensuring the daily availability of bars of soap or soap dispensers at each sink for hand washing in all of our facilities.
- We have implemented social distancing pursuant to directives from our government agency partners and communicated these obligations and requirements via meetings, memos, and postings.
- We deployed floor markers throughout our facilities to inform and encourage social distancing and modified facility movements to accommodate social distancing.
- We temporarily suspended onsite social visitation.
- We established requirements for staff to complete a medical questionnaire and pass a daily temperature check.
- We modified intake procedures to screen new inmates/detainees and established isolation and quarantine procedures for COVID-19 positive and symptomatic cases, consistent with CDC guidelines.
Administrative/Work Practice Controls
- We posted reminders regarding coughing and sneezing etiquette, the importance of frequent handwashing, and the use of facemasks.
- We increased cleaning and disinfection of facilities, including high-touch areas (e.g., doorknobs/handles, light switches, handheld radios), housing unit dayrooms, dining areas, and other areas where individuals assemble.
- We advised our employees to remain home if they exhibit flu-like symptoms, and we have exercised flexible paid leave and paid time off policies to allow employees to remain home if they exhibit flu-like symptoms or to care for a family member.
- We enacted quarantine and testing policies for any employees who may have come into contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- We are working closely with our government partners and State and Local Health Departments to coordinate vaccination efforts for staff, inmates, detainees, and residents at our secure facilities, reentry centers and programs across the country; these measures align with recommendations from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and criteria established through the FDA’s approval process.
- The timing of vaccine distribution to staff, inmates, detainees, and residents is being directed by the Local and State Health Departments in jurisdictions where we operate through the guidance and prioritization recommendations offered by the CDC and ACIP.
- As of the end of November 2022, GEO has worked with our government agency partners and State and Local Health Departments to administer more than 77,000 doses of the vaccine to inmates, detainees, and residents in our facilities.
GEO is continuing to coordinate closely with our government agency partners and local health agencies to ensure the health and safety of all those in our care and our employees. We are grateful for our frontline employees, who are making sacrifices daily to provide care for all those in our facilities, during this unprecedented global pandemic.